Sunday, April 30, 2017

100 Days Of Trump

Donald Trump has been president for over 100 days and 45 extolled his accomplishments to a faith crowd in Harrisburg Pa. over one-hundred miles from Washington.

The appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court pleased his constituency and he deluged the government with over 200 executive orders bypassing Congress, however his first attempt at dismantling Affordable Health Care failed to reach the floor of the House and his Wall to protect the southern border with Mexico remains a figment of his imagination. Donald spoke before the NRA and thanked the gun lobby for their support. His tweets have threatened North Korea and Trump ordered the Navy to nail a Syrian air force base in revenge for Assad's poison gas on Aleppo. # 45 is a little gun crazy, which scares a world seeking peace.

ICE or the Immigration Bureau has been ordered to round-up illegals, but sanctuary cities rejected his edict.

The President banned citizens from seven Muslim nations from entering the USA.

This executive order was rejected by the courts.

Trump has railed against these failures.

So how bad have been the first 100 days of Trump.

Bad, but not Hitler bad.

The SS aren't walking down the streets of New York.

Beers at the 169 are still $2 at Happy Hour.

The KKK are there.

The police are still killers.

But Trump does not have the support of the nation.

Not 40%.

And there is no wall with Mexico.

Only san in the wind.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

GARRISON JUNCTION by Peter Nolan Smith

In the late summer of 1972 my college friend and I hitchhiked across across Montana. The interstate was under construction. Ptrov and I got stranded in Garrison Junction for a good reason.

Twenty miles farther south was the Montana State Prison.

A sign warned motorists about escaped convicts.

No one was taking a chance on two hippies not being members of the Manson Family and we waited for hours.

I thought about jumping on a train.

Which was never good idea in the high plains.

Trains usually went to a nowhere more nowhere than where you were.

"Just be patient. We can't change anything. We are here. Nowhere else. Sooner or later we won't be here."

"Like an anti-Black Hole?"

Ptrov and I were math majors.

We understood a little more of the universe than the rest of the world.

Around sunset a Marine and his brother stopped for us. They were heading to Woburn.

Only twenty miles from my parents' house on the South Shore. We made the trip in two days. My mother was happy to see me, but said after a hug, "Take a shower. You smell like a hobo."

Actually I smelled worse and over the years Deer Lodge faded from my memory.

In the early spring of 1994 Ms. Carolina and I were on a road trip through Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. She liked the open road and Montana's speed limit was 'whatever was reasonable and proper.

Someplace east of Missoula Ms. Carolina passed a state trooper cooping in front of a truck piggybacking two trailers. The Chevy's speedo was wavering over 100.

"Don't hit the breaks. It's a sign of guilt," I warned from the passenger seat. The speed limit in Montana was whatever was reasonable and prudent.

She stepped on the gas and the cruiser remained in its hiding place.

The Big Sky Country was good for speed and cattle.

"Slow down, slow down." We had exited the Interstate.

"What is it?" Ms. Carolina checked the rearview mirrors for a state trooper.

"This is Garrison Junction. Where Ptrov and I were stranded for a day. Pull over."

Ms. Carolina had heard the story and pulled onto the shoulder.

Once the Chevy came to a stop, I got out of the car. Ms. Carolina joined me.

"Does it look any different?"

"A little wider and there used to be a sign here saying NO STOPPING HITCHHIKERS COULD BE ESCAPED CONVICTS."

"Not a good place to be stuck."

"And we were stuck. By evening we were going to jump a train to get out of here." Today the rail junction was empty of freight cars. "It didn't matter where it was going as long as it was out of here."

In the anti-Black Hole, but not today and Ms. Carolina broke the power by saying, "Not much of a place."

"There was no food. Nothing." Twenty-three years hadn't changed Garrison Junction, but my mind's eye saw two young hippies on the side of the road. We were nineteen. Neither of us was a criminal.

"Nothing here now either." I kicked a rock on the shoulder. It bounced into the high grass.

Ms. Carolina and I got back in the car.

This time I had only stopped five minutes in Garrison Junction and those five minutes felt like forever.

Ms. Carolina had a heavy foot on the gas and top speed was a good thing in Montana.

Especially since it was prudent.

Monday, April 24, 2017

3 Ma - CO2 = 400+

Three million years ago Paranthropus Boisei roamed the East African woods, existing on C4 plants according to scientists. Turtles, elephants, giraffes, zebras, lions, rhinoceros and gazelles appear in the fossil record of that long-lost era. The CO2 level 3 ma was 400 ppm and this week the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii recorded that number after 3 ma of 270 ppm.

I blame everything on consumption

Needless to say climate denialists refuse to recognize man's hand of the CO2 accelerator led by their fat champion, Donald 45 Trump. If this trend continues unabated, then the CO2 ppm level will reached a rate not seen for a half-billion years.

Although we achieve that regularly in some cities.

Like Delhi.



New York City.

But not the Western Forest.

Ban Nok is still clean.

How I wish I was there.

France Versus France

The French primaries has reduced the field to two presidential candidates; rightist Marion Anne Perrine "Marine" Le Pen and ex-socialist centrist Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frédéric Macron. Neither has ever worked a real jobs. Marine Le Pen has been a lawyer and politician, while Macron has been a functionaire his entire career. The French press and world media have excoriated the National Front leader as a populist demagogue. Macron failed to ignite the 70% turnout of the French electorate who gave him a mere 23% of the vote to Le Pen's 22%.

More of the same from him.

Marine Le Pen promises to protect France.

She lives with a common-law husband.

Strangely Macron is married to his ex-teacher 24 years his senior.

They met when he was 15.

Bonne Chance.

France versus France.

No one wins in the end.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Hiding Behind Fats

Back in the 80s I worked the door at the Bains-Douches in Paris.

The owner suggested hiring new blood for security.

My first choice was Big Jacques.

Jacques Negrit was a tall, handsome and good-natured voyo from the slums of the peripherique.

His gang was called Les Bufalos.

Jacques was just out of prison.

I never asked him for what,

My boss agreed to hire Jacques, although he was surprised by my suggesting, Jacques' pote, Fats.

"What can he do? He's lazy, steals, and eats like a horse."

My patron was right, but I said, "Jacques, stand behind Fats."

His real name was Philippe.

Jacques crouched behind Fats, who was munching frites from the nearby merguez stand.

"Can you see Jacques?"


"So when anyone attacks us with a gun, we hide behind Fats. He'll block everything."

"Give him a job." My boss greenlighted hiring Fats, who was upset by my demonstration of his worth, but I said, "Fats, you're one of us. I got you a job. I was just kidding about blocking the bullets."

"Casse-toi." He didn't stop eating the frites and smiled at the thought of having a real job.

It was his first

Now he's a head of a security firm in FRance.

The Bafalos handle all the concerts and big shows.

And I get into them for free, because I'm a Bafalo too.

Tibetan Dogs On The Prowl

There is an old joke about Tibetan street dogs that is more than part true.

Why do you need two sticks to take a shit in Tibet?

One to hold onto and another to beat off the dogs.

I never had occasion to relieve myself in the cities of Tibet, however more than once I found myself confronted by packs of dog.

Vicious snarling mutts descended from the famed mastiffs of the Himalayas.


You bet I was.

They were everywhere in the 90s.

The Tibetans considered them sacred.

The Chinese authorities decided the kill off the mongrels.

By the thousands.

But they live on.

By the millions.

Three Altar Boys in the Snow

Three altar boys are standing in the snow with their pants down around their ankles.

They have their penises' in a snow bank. Sister Margaret sticks her head out the window and says, "Boys! Boys!Whatever are you doing? You're going to catch pneumonia. Put your penis' away."

The tallest altar boy turns around and yells, "Sister Margaret, don't worry, we know what we're doing. Father Porter always likes a couple cold ones after work."

For a related article click on this URL

Beware of Girl Scouts

And I thought altar boys were bad.

THE LAST GO-GO BOY by Peter Nolan Smith

Americans tend to judge the nation’s fiscal well-being by the rise and fall of the Dow Jones Index, even though Wall Street’s accumulation of wealth has destroyed the spending power of the middle-class. The January bonuses for the hedge fund managers will not save a single consumer buried under debt, after which the corporations will trim benefits and wages to the bone to maximize profit.

Few employees protested the low pay in fear of losing their jobs with good reason.

The nation's economy is in the shitter and I asked myself what jobs are available for a 64 year-old man.

Very few was the answer.

Years before I had been lucky that Manny reserved a place for me on West 47th Street, but this year has been the exception. Times were that tough in the Diamond District.

Early in December I flogged a gay writer's family heirlooms to a gold dealer in another exchange.

Later that evening at his East Village apartment I paid Bruce $4000 minus my commission.

"Now I can pay my health insurance," the heavyweight writer sighed with gratitude and invited me an Asian fusion restaurant on Avenue B. Every seat was crammed with young people enjoying the approach of the holidays.

“I never see anyone my age on the subway.” These go-getters were my competition for a subway seat in the morning. Thankfully none of them were ruthless enough to throw me under the train.

“Most men our age are retired.” Bruce's finger darted over the menu. His thinning hair was bleached blonde, so he resembled an aging beach bum. The waiter paid attention to his every word like he was a seeing-eye dog. Bruce was generous with young men.

"Or dead."

“You're not dying anytime soon."

"I'm too healthy for that." My health care plan was never get sick.

"Do you have a retirement plan?” Bruce was a world-known novelist. Critics had recognized his genius. Sales for his last book totaled a little over 2000, but he owned his apartment and in another year he would be old enough to receive Social Security.

“When I hit 70, I'm flying to Norway." I ordered oysters with seaweed noodles, plus a glass of wine. The thin waiter had to be 35 years younger than me. He wouldn't think of a 60 year-old man as middle-aged, but neo-senior.


"Yes, I'm going to rob a bank with a gun, then they'll sentence me to 20 to life for armed robbery. I've seen photos of Norway's prison for violent offenders. The rooms have computers and are furnished by IKEA.

“Ten years from now the Norwegian prison officials will have instituted euthanasia for the elderly, so robbing a bank in Oslo is not really an option."

"You have any other suggestions?" Supporting my family in Thailand had wiped out my savings.

"Ever think about taking steel pole lessons from your stripper friends?"

"What for?"

"If you lost ten pounds, you could work as a go-go boy at a queer retirement home.” Bruce’s biting wit was best suited to attack rather than self-deprecation.

“Honey, those old wrinklies aren’t so particular about the weight. They like the young flesh.”

“A scary thought.” Just yesterday my Thai wife reminded me over the phone that I wasn’t 17 anymore. Mam was 28 and my son was four years-old. I couldn’t quit working until I was 78.

"Those old fags want someone young.” Bruce had written a book on the rough trade in Times Square. His tricks had called him Papi. None of them had been under 20 and he never sunk under 250 pounds.

“Those old queens in the nursing homes haven't seen anyone young as you in decades. You could charge the homes $100 a visit, which has to be more beneficial for the old geezers than any other medicine. And you could do lap dances.”

“Thanks for the idea, but I'd rather rob a cradle than a grave."

"Times change and people like you and me have to change with them, plus graves are richer pickings than a cradle. Hell, you could franchise the go-go scheme in Florida. How many retirement homes you think are in the Sunshine State? Thousands? There has to be a demand for middle-aged men from the elderly queers.”

“Supply and demand.”

“And who knows? You might be able to sex them up for a little more money on the side.” Bruce caressed the waiter’s behind. He was a regular here and the waiter smiled with the anticipation of good tip. Bruce liked to pay for sex even if it was merely a grope.

“No way. I barely wanted to have sex with myself let alone with someone else.”

“Why, because you think you're too good to have sex with someone older than you like me.” He frowned at this unintended insult. “What about the woman you had sex with in Palm Beach?"

"Helen?" The Palm Beach heiress had been unnaturally blonde and fashionably thin. We had been introduced by my longtime mistress at the Breakers four summers ago.

"That's the one. You said she was over 70.”

“Closing on 75.” Helen published several magazines extolling the good life on the Gold Coast. She had invited me to her house on Lake Worth. The fragrance of her garden had overwhelmed by the reefer she smoked in a diamond encrusted hand.
We spoke about sex. Helen knew the world; past, present, and future.

"She didn't seem old." The elegant septuagenarian spent part of the year at a Swiss clinic rejuvenating her aged body in Botox like it was fondue cheese.

"She had your number." Bruce was fascinated by my sordid encounter.


"As I remember it, she said that she hadn’t had cock in her mouth in ten years. She had begged for it and you gave it to her like you were remaking SUNSET BOULEVARD.”

“It was a mercy mission.” I did look a little like William Holden in the shadows of her bedroom.

With the lights off, the curtains billowing with the evening breeze, and Helen wearing sheer lingerie and satin high heels, I imagined that she was Paris Hilton in the year 2040. On her knees the mirage had performed fellatio like she was entering the Porno Hall of Fame. Thankfully she had never said, “Ready for my scene, Mr. DeMille.”

Maybe the first time, but what about the second time?” Bruce sat back, as the waiter delivered our appetizers; fried calamari for him and raw bluepoints for me. “Gore Vidal said about orgies that once is experimentation, but twice is perversity.”

“The second time was because I was drunk.” Two bottles of wine and a joint had loosened by inhibitions and she had had her way with me. “There was no third time.”

"Only because you saw her with another man at the Chesterfield.”

“She was in the Leopard Lounge.” The other man had been in his late 60s. He had once been an Elvis impersonator. I felt cheap.

“And you heard her use that ‘haven’t tasted cock' line on him, so don’t tell me you can’t go-go boy anymore. We all have a price.”

“I’d rather rob a bank in Norway.” I sucked down an oyster tasting of the Atlantic.

“And end up a stick boy in a Viking prison.” Bruce was enjoying himself. "You don't look like you'd like being a bottom."

"Never." I never would be a bottom, except with my wife Mam. She got off better that way.

“You do what you have to do to survive. Believe me. I know.” He had taught creative writing at a Wyoming dude ranch college two years ago. He was lucky to have escaped the high plains without being charged for perversion.

“I know you do.” Bruce was forever broke same as everyone in America, but maybe Bruce was right and the only one way of finding out was by a repeat performance in Palm Beach.

We clinked glasses.

“To go-go boys.”

“And Florida.” I felt lucky as would anyone with high season only a month away from December.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Dangers of Marijuana

REEFER MADNESS was a 1936 film financed by a church group intent on informing American youth about the reputed dangers of marijuana. A ten-minute Google search failed to reveal the name of the church group, however the film's focus was hijacked by the addition of salacious scenes by an exploitation producer, Dwain Esper, supposedly a horrible director.

NORML, a pro-marijuana group rediscovered REEFER MADNESS in 1972 and bought the rights from the Library of Congress for $272 to distribute the movie across the USA. It was an instant hit and its popularity has spawned books and a Broadway show, for the only dangers of marijuana are the criminalization of grass, getting beat by a dealer, and eating the contents of your refrigerator.

It does not cause madness or death.


Tobacco 435,000
Poor Diet and Physical Inactivity 365,000
Alcohol 85,000
Microbial Agents 75,000
Toxic Agents 55,000
Motor Vehicle Crashes 26,347
Adverse Reactions to Prescription Drugs 32,000
Suicide 30,622
Incidents Involving Firearms 29,000
Homicide 20,308
Sexual Behaviors 20,000
All Illicit Drug Use, Direct and Indirect 17,000
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs Such As Aspirin 7,600
Marijuana 0


Free the weed.

4:20 4/20 2017

Police and parents demonized Marijuana during my youth. Reefer smokers were condemned by the courts. John Sinclair, the MC5 radical, was sentenced to ten years of prison for the crime of ‘giving’ an undercover agent two joints. The severity of his punishment did not deter the millions of marijuana smokers of the 60s from becoming disciples after the Summer of Love.

I remained straight.

Drugs were for someone else.

I liked beer. It was almost legal, if the police ignored the drinking age. My friends drank beer too, but they were also converts to marijuana. We had met two years ago at the Surf Nantasket, a dance club on the beach. That evening we had just seen the Rockin’ Ramrods, the South Shore’s #1 band. My three friends wanted to smoke marijuana on the way home. I told them no.

“I don’t want to get a contact high.” My drugs of choice was beer, wine, and any other form of alcohol. Marijuana was against the laws of the state. No one in my family had ever gone to jail.

"Pot is better than alcohol and safer than cigarettes." John was a head. He smoked every day. His grade average at high school was a straight D.

"You smoke both." The radio in my VW Beetle was tuned to WMEX. The DJ was playing the Zombies SEASON OF THE WITCH. It was a groovy song.

"Girls like smoking weed." Frank E had been in the Marines for six months. A broken leg had earned him an honorable discharge. He brandished a joint between his fingers. "It makes them horny."

My girlfriend was straight. Kyla was a cheerleader with a divorced mom. We had come close more than a dozen times that summer.

“Smoke it.” John lit up a reefer. He attended Catholic Memorial. It was my school’s arch rival. “You’ll feel good.”

“Smoke it.” Thommie Gordon played hockey for Archbishop Williams. He had long hair. His sister was cute. “It won’t hurt you.”

I opened the sunroof of the VW. My window too.

“Smoke it.” Frank E sucked on the joint. “Girls like it, especially that hippie girl from Weymouth you like. Susan Finn.”

“She does?” I had spent the entire afternoon trying to get the petite brunette out to the beach. She had a reputation for being 'easy'. I was frustrated from Kyla's refusals. She wanted me to wait until after college. Four more years was an eternity for a teenage boy.

“Yes, she does.” A match flared before John’s face. He inhaled off the joint and then passed it to the front. I grabbed the joint from John. I inhaled like a cigarette. I had smoked one of those in 1964. I suspected the same result from the joint. Harsh fumes and coughing.

I was wrong.

I was a long-distance runner. My lungs sucked in a big hit of smoke. I didn’t exhale for 30 seconds. The plume exiting my mouth filled the VW with a cloud. At first I didn’t feel anything. The light turned green. I watched the color. It was so beautiful. I said the same to John. He agreed. Frank did too. The Misunderstood played CHILDREN OF THE SUN. We didn’t move for the entire song. A horn finally broke the trance. We were holding up traffic. I shifted into first and we drove to John’s house in Wollaston to smoke another joint. I was no longer straight. My life was different from before.

My friends laughed hysterically.

I joined them.

I was ruined for society and have remained FTW, especially on 4/20, National Smoke Day.

420 wasn’t the original choice for this holiday, however 4:20 was the mythical time that these pothead from San Rafael High School in California would meet at Louis Pasteur Statue to get high.

Hence 420.

Not much else to say other than I’m going out to break the law.

It’s time to free the weed.

If you got it, smoke it. I will.

4:20 2017

Today is 4/20, when people celebrate smoking marijuana worldwide, despite the draconian laws against te weed.

In total 29 states have legalized marijuana use.

The hold-outs come as no surprise.

God and pot do not mix. The states are Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, and a handful of die-hard anti reefer backwaters.

We only have one thing to say to them.

Leave us alone.

Happy 4/20.

Enjoy Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Long Reign Of Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II has ruled Great Britain since 1952.

65 Years.

A long long time.

Her Highness is now 91 years old.

There have been highs and lows.

We all know them

I'll be gracious enough to not mention them.

Pocket Radio

The following day my father brought home two crystal radio sets shaped as rockets. They were made in Japan. My father was an electrical engineer with New England Bell and explained their workings, “You attached alligator clips to a metal object. The signal is transmitted to the antenna and you tuned the radio with a retractable space needle jutting from the nose of the rocket.”

“They aren’t going to get electrocuted, are they?” My mother’s fear was for our own good.

“There’s no electrical charge. The radios capture the airwaves. These are better than TV.” TV reception is Maine was limited to three very snowy channels during the day. “You can hear the rest of the world with them.”

“Okay.” My mother didn’t sound convinced and at bedtime I dressed in my Davy Crockett pajamas.

Before I could plant the earpiece, my mother ordered us to hand over the sets. My brother surrendered his and rolled over to sleep.

I needed any explanation.

“Because I said so.” She held out her hand.

“But they don’t have any batteries.” I had read the flimsy instruction sheet. One side was in Japanese.

“At night they play things you shouldn’t hear,” she exhaled with adult exasperation.

“Things?” This cryptic comment reanimated my dozing brother.

As a devout supporter of Tailgunner Joe’s battle against the Reds my mother was deeply concerned about the subversion of the airwaves.

“Yes, things.”

“There’s nothing on the radio in Maine that can hurt them.” My father came into the bedroom and contradicted my mother’s demand, “Let them listen to the radio. It’s a free country and the radio scares away the snakes.”

“You shouldn’t be telling them stories.” She gave him a withering glare.

“I just want a night’s sleep,” he whispered with a wink.

My mother begrudgingly returned my brother’s set and kissed us both.

“Sleep tight.”

“And don’t let the bedbugs bite,” my brother and I replied in unison.

Once the light went out, my brother fell asleep and I attached the alligator clips to the metal bed frame. The little rockets range expanded across the country at night.

The airwaves soared with voices from Montreal, Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Wheeling, West Virginia. Their accents scared away the snakes. Music and radio shows could be heard between the squawks of static, until a hoarse man cried out, “And Cousy has the ball.”

I soon divined this broadcast was a basketball game at Boston Garden between the Seventy-Sixers and the Celtics.

Each play mattered to the excited announcer and the roar of the crowd was as bloodthirsty as the Romans in the Coliseum. I rooted for the Boston team, since my mother had been born in Jamaica Plains, but Bill Russell was not stopping the dreaded giant, Wilt. Luckily the Sixers were befuddled by the Jones boys and at breakfast I recounted the two brothers’ defense stopping the Philadelphia team.

“When did you fall asleep?” my father asked and I answered, “Around midnight.”

“Don’t tell your mother or the Jones Boys will have a curfew.”

After that night I listened to every game.

Without touching a basketball.

Monday, April 17, 2017

MAUVAIS MECS by Peter Nolan Smith

That year winter had been mild in Paris.

Farther to the North there was snow and I was glad to have been detoured from Berlin to Paris by an urgent phone call.

Vonelli was in trouble.

When I got off the train in Gare Du Nord, no one waiting at the station, which was a good sign, since not everyone in Paris was my friend.

The taxi ride to Bastille took fifteen minutes. The driver didn't say a word. At 51 Rue Basfroi I climbed the stairs to Vonelli's apartment.

"Thanks for coming on such short notice."

"You caught me between jobs."

The art dealer knew well enough to not ask about those jobs.

Vonelli was a tough guy, so I wasn't ready for his collapse.

"She's gone." His head rested in his hands.


"Bella and she won't be coming back, unless I give someone something I can't give them."

"Who's them?" I was starting to sound like an owl.


"I know the name." The exiled African prince was an expert at low-level kidnappings and never demanded more in ransom than what the 'sucker' could afford to lose, however Vonelli was no 'pigeon'. He knew 'people'.

"Snap out of it." I yanked Vonelli to his feet. "You have a photo of Bella?"

Vonelli pulled out a naked shot from the Piscine Deligny. The girl was pretty and young, but his being with her wasn't a crime in France.

"I got another from Kroutchee." He handed me a picture.

Bella was prettier in lingerie.

"She's not scamming you?" I trusted no one.

"No, she loves me." Vonelli had more heart than me.

"And how much does Kroutchee want?" This deal was a question of easy math.

Vonelli said a number and gave me an address where to get the cash.

2 Avenue Gabriel.


"You think I have that kind of money?"

"No." I muttered a swear and left the apartment.

I hated the US Embassy and Vonelli's team was happy with the shortness of my visit.

They were still fighting the Cold War and picked up the case. It was light, then again, $50,000 US doesn't weight much.

I thought of my plan.

Kroutchee operated with a tight crew; two tough mecs and a blonde model. One man carried a gun, but they preferred to drug their victims.

I needed back-up and phoned Brial. The music producer came from the South of France. He knew how to keep his mouth shut and I told him to meet me in the Marais.

"How you like my car?"

"A little too obvious."

I sat down at the cafe and order an expresso.

When I mentioned 'Kroutchee', Brial said, "I know where they hang out. The Chat Noir."

"I know it."

In fact everyone in Paris knew it.

It was a popular cafe on the Boulevard St. Germain.


Jist hold the money. Half is his, if everything worked out in the end.

"And if it doesn't?"

"We'll burn that bridge when we get to it.".

Afterwards I went to Bastille and shot a pistol.

Marcel asked if I want 'un flingue'.

"Non." Guns complicated matters. "But thanks for offering."

I called the number Vonelli had given me. A Swedish girl told me to go to Le Privilege. Someone named Black Jack would meet me at the bar.

"Cool." Le Privilege was the chicest club in Paris.

Black Jack was waiting for me. I ordered a gin-tonic. The bartender poured a double. Claude liked me the way most men like him liked men like me.

The entire crew was at the table; Kroutchee, the blonde and a Finnish tough guy, plus a junkie.

"Where's the money?" Kroutchee cut the chase.

"Where's the girl?" My drink went down smooth.

"She's safe."

"I bet." I eyed the blonde. She was out of her depths, but men like Kroutchee were good at getting women to do what they didn't want to do.

"Not with your life." Kroutchee snapped his fingers for another drink.

I had eyes in the back of my head.

Black Jack poured something into my drink.

A knock-out punch.

I just hoped it was nothing pharmaceutical.

Kroutchee's tough Ulf was a pretty Finnish boy.

My head lowered to the table.

Whatever it was was good.

Ulf's laugh was the last thing I heard over Chic at the Privilege.

I sort of remembered Ulf and Black Jack carrying my body up stairs.

Three flights and they didn't drop me once.

Someone stuck a needle in my arm.

After that moe blackness.

I woke next to a warm body.

Bella was better in real life than photos.

Then Kroutchee entered the room.

"Where the money?"

"What money?"

"The money to keep me from doing bad to Bella."

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"You will soon."

Ulf liked a knife. Black Jack came from the ghetto of Paris. To him this was only a job.

Neither of them saw Brial, as Kroutchee shrieked at me.

"I am a piano player. I will play you like a tango."

Ulf lifted me to my feet.

Brial came through the window.

The fight lasted a few seconds.

I caught Ulf on the stairs. He asked for mercy. I didn't like having a knife to my neck and kicked him down the stairs. He made it to the ground floor without stopping.

Black Jack I gave a free pass.

Kroutchee wasn't as lucky.

I made him play piano.

He hit a High C after I closed the cover on his fingers.

Brial got rid of the blonde. He liked ice queens.

I freed Bella.

She was very grateful.

"Anything you want."

I could think of one thing, but said, "Get dressed."

Vonelli was a friend and friends didn't colect rewards from the girlfriends of friends.

Brial drove us to Rue Basfroi.

Bella asked me up.

I said, "Maybe another day."

"What about the money?"

I gave him half.

$25,000 was reward enough for me.

And I made my train at Gare Du Nord.

Like all the trains leaving from that station it was heading North.