EAST SIDE CONFIDENTIAL
Part Two: Confusion on the heels of chaos
"Once, if I remember correctly, I was present at a rally of madmen."
– Roberto Bolaño
Connected twins who share a vital organ are destined to die simultaneously. Frank "Turk" Jaworski and the Open Kitchen took the same exit. Her departure marked the end of an era that was an anachronism at the time of her disappearance. The open kitchen was a small room that was not influenced by linear time. Within the boundaries of its walls, time stuttered sometime in the mid-fifties due to a defect in the time / space continuum. The open kitchen was a unique experience. It could never be duplicated. No one in his right mind would try such folly at all. The bar was the three-dimensional manifestation of Turk's personality. Bill Curry opened the Copabanana not long after the open kitchen was closed. Changes were inevitable after so many years of stasis. Only one element remained the same. At the same address hell broke loose.
The Copabanana was very different from the Open Kitchen. There was a well stocked bar, not just cans of Schmidt and cheap liquor. Every element of Turk's bar has been completely deleted by the new owner. The copa tore the clock violently into the present. In contrast to Turk's dictatorial rule, Bill Curry preferred a laissez-faire approach to running his bar. As long as the behavior of his clientele did not jeopardize his liquor license, he was tolerant of borderline behavior. It was easier and more profitable to ignore anything but major transgressions. All Curry demanded of its customers was a minimum of discretion and no obvious acts of lawlessness. Considering the clientele and the staff, even this small concession was a challenge. The society changed in the late seventies and early eighties. These changes were responsible for a more open sexual atmosphere. The contraceptive pill was widely used and sexually transmitted diseases have not yet been classified as either permanent or fatal. As a result, the sexual revolution was in full swing. South Street swung a bit further than other neighborhoods. The area was reputed to adopt creative, eccentric, and marginal behavior. It therefore attracted a multitude of people, all of whom were in some ways bent. Styles that struck downtown or the suburbs were observed on South Street with an eye-scratch. The Bizarre was not only accepted, it was also adopted on South Street. Normal became funny. In the words of Hunter S. Thompson: "When it gets weird, the weird professionals will." If we were not professionals, we would be damn good amateurs.
Nobody went to the open kitchen to meet women. There was none. Turk did not banish her, he simply did nothing to promote her patronage. He did not encourage anyone to visit the place. He was more interested in making sure that irritating people stayed out. If they annoyed him, he threw them out quickly. These exclusions had nothing to do with race at all. Most of his clientele was black. With equanimity, he banished people from all walks of life. The limited variety of drinks, the brusque nature of Turk and the fact that the kitchen at Open Kitchen was never open, discouraged erring tourists. It attracted a loyal clientele of cynical and graying veterans, all men. Anyone who frequented the place, who was occupied by Turk's rules, or went somewhere else. It's only logical that women would avoid a bar owned by an owner who has a reputation for jabbing a chrome-plated face on a regular basis. The open kitchen was an acquired taste. It was Turk's personal fief and he did not seem interested in profit. Bill Curry was mainly interested in running a profitable business. He realized that tolerance was profitable in this fringe area.
This special evening surpassed the standards of chaos in a chaotic time. A large group of us visited an art opening this evening. I forget the exhibition and the name of the gallery, but that does not matter. We all agreed to meet at the Copabanana afterwards. In retrospect, it was a questionable decision. Some of us had to work the next day, like myself, but the instant gratification almost always overruled common sense. When we left the gallery, the entire crew was on the charming side of the drunk. This condition could not be maintained during the night. Overall, we missed the basic impulse control on a good day. The odds were to unfold as an evening of silent contemplation given the cast of characters and the amount of alcohol consumed. Although we operated in the shadow of the culture industry, this was not a group of non-Jewish aesthetes and dilettantes. Drunk reminded our behavior of orangutans who were on an unauthorized vacation from the zoo. All the gains we made within the art system were immediately eliminated by transgressive actions. We have repeatedly torn the defeat out of the jaws of victory. If good behavior was the price of success, it was too high a price to pay for it because of our lack of interest in the game and our disregard for the rules.
Our tactic was more street than salon. One night at the Khyber I was at the urinal and a damn idiot said to me, "Oh, you're Michael Macfeat, the guy who does the crazy stuff and does the crazy stuff." I punched him in the mouth, zipped up, and returned to the bar.
Most of the exhibiting artists and our friends went to the Copabanana that evening. My dad and his friend Rocco were at the show and decided to have some cocktails with us. It was not unusual for Al to make contacts with us. He was always for a few drinks and the pursuit of pleasure. In fact, joy was his only motivation in life. In honor of her, none of the fathers of my friends like Al acted. He was a unique individual and often not in good shape.
It was fun to go out with my dad, even though it was a nightmare to grow up with him. He was in good company and charming. It made it easier to forgive his mistakes. On the other hand, he was also a gaping bastard. If it were not screwed, he would steal it. If so, he has brought a screwdriver. He could be quite entertaining and he was generous when he had the means. Al would never let any of us pay for anything when we went out. Given the limited resources at my disposal, it would have been a self-defeat to decline its size. He would not come over if he had no cash. As so often with players, his finances were tied to his fortune, so he was not very much involved. His absences lasted long enough to ensure that he was resumed.
His friend Rocco was no stranger. Rocco always had a pistol with me, although I was never sure why he felt the need. He was a pretty tall man and quite able to find his way without him. He did not show a weapon, but the weapon sometimes caused a distinctive bulge under his clothes. Hanging around with Rocco taught me to look for signs that a man was armed. Despite the weapon, Rocco was sociable and fun to be around. His weapon was an accepted fact, as was his size. Surely no one had the eggs to ask him about the pistol.
In the Copa, Rocco and my dad insisted on paying all the drinks. It was an expensive night for these two spendthrifts. A rather large entourage followed us to the bar and took full advantage of the offer. From experience I knew that these wild extravagances usually meant that a scam or a bet had borne fruit. Apparently, both took advantage of a lucrative hijack, wasting money like drunken stockbrokers with expense reports. I knew that these random gains were often at the expense of others. An invisible loser was probably back in New Jersey, licking his wounds and cursing his bad luck. Fuck it all. Free drinks were free drinks. I've learned to ignore the source of Al's funds. It was not worth the time to think about it.
Due to their (presumably) bad profits, several cocktails piled up on both floors for our enjoyment. Free cocktails might sound good in abstract terms, but in fact they almost always turn out to be mistakes. Sometimes, paying for drinks helps keep an eye on excessive spending. not always but sometimes. Given the Rogues Gallery in the Copa that night, the surplus was predetermined. The drinks were free, but they certainly did nothing to promote good behavior in this group of primates.
Driven by the seemingly endless flow of alcohol, the evening slowly began to descend into anarchy. People went back and forth between the floors, looking for an anticipated but indefinable amusement. Both floors had several cocktails available, so these hikes were not just for entertaining. Luckily I had a good relationship with the manager of the bar so she left us on her own. She had incredible eyes, tall and fascinating. Granted, I was slightly hypnotized then.
One of the women in our group got used to anything (real or imaginary) and stormed out loud from the bar. She had the reputation of drunk a houdini. We all had seen this routine before and knew that persecution is an exercise in futility. I wish I could forget who she was. She later claimed to return to New Jersey via the Ben Franklin Bridge. An attractive woman who survived an evening stroll through the city of Camden was unimaginable. Camden led the nation in killings per capita. At the time it was one of the most lawless cities in America and it stays that way. Whether or not this hike actually took place was irrelevant. Facts and fictions are blurred on such evenings. Anyway, nobody worried about the sudden departure. It was old hat and meant more free alcohol for the rest of us.
My dad, who was pretty drunk at the time, had gotten into his big head that one of our friends was pregnant. Unfortunately that was not the case. She was just a girl with big bones. Understandably, my father's comments shocked her. At a young age, men are trained not to ask about the weight and age of a woman. It was not as if Al had no extensive experience with the opposite sex. His success with women was legendary. Unfortunately, his common sense and discretion went south that evening. Either he forgot it or he just could not make it, I'm not sure which one. Al did not stop commenting on her fragile state. Oh no, he kept going on and on. If he had just made those comments behind her back, it would have been less embarrassing for everyone. He interrogated pretty directly and was relentless. Al spent an incredible amount of time making her confess to being pregnant. It was the height of absurdity for a man who, even when caught red-handed, had the audacity to claim confession from anyone else. Whatever his motivation, he was persistent. With the singularity of the spirit that drunks often show, he was fixated on the subject. This horror show lasted forever. With the attention span of a two-year-old Al got tired of the game and went over to the other equally absurd delusions.
To distract the poor girl's attention from my father's abuse, a close friend asked the girl for her phone number. Her mood improved with the prospect of a possible romance with this pretty rake. I knew this bastard had no intention of ever calling her (in fact he never did), but she felt a little better, if fleeting.
Cocktails flowed without end, an alcoholic version of the nearby Delaware River. Whatever we could say to make sure it continued unabated. Kevin, our friend Mike and I retired to the bar above. Up there it was less crowded and I needed a break from my dad's madness. It was obvious that our luck could not endure forever. As unavoidable and unwanted as my cat the next day, my dad and Rocco noticed our absence. In too short a time they did it.
At the far end of the bar sat an attractive woman wearing a white fur coat. She was a few years older than Kevin and me, but that was irrelevant. Her style was not right, it was way too obvious. Her wardrobe was shiny and sparkling like a human disco ball. Her clothes identified her as a South Philadelphia native. Their style meant a certain attitude and told us that we could not get there from here. From the other side of the bar, it was obvious that it was a clash of sensitivities. The stylistic soundtrack was Clash's White Riot at the end of the bar and It's Raining Men at the other end. She looked like a materialistic pain in the ass. Never fought a fight that I could not win, I settled into my Tanqueray and Tonics and let sleeping dogs lie.
Unfortunately, not all followed my prudent example. Rocco and Al felt attracted to her. They still lived a rat pack version of the past. Contemporary cues had little meaning for them. Even if they understood the clues, they were free to ignore them. In that sense, they were anarchists. They did what they wanted whenever they wanted, as long as their money was enough. They talked to her as if one of them had a chance with her. The shitty thing is that it looked like they could at a glance. Either she enjoyed the company, which was hard to imagine, or she drank drinks, a more likely scenario. It was impossible for me to take care of it. These two clowns were on a mission and it was best to leave them alone. I kept an eye on the conversation as an accident happened on the other side of the highway. I did not really want to see the carnage, but it was fascinating on a morbid level. I was not interested in hearing the actual conversation. It had to be a lie and I had heard enough of the sound of my father's voice for one evening. She was physically fit, so Al would not ask her if she was pregnant. That gave me a little comfort.
My dad could be exceptionally charming, if he thought it right, to make an effort. His guile with women was legendary and taken for granted. It was unthinkable to leave my friends with him for a longer time. Even if he did not wrestle with me, it was within reach. He was so charming, so sneaky and his behavior with women was untouched by great age differences. The woman had as many chances as a wounded zebra being run down by a hyena. Al could never be entrusted to women or money. He was treacherous on both fronts.
Kevin, our friend Mike and I were at the far end of the bar and still practicing our drinking. It went pretty well if forgetting was the goal. We were regulars at the bar, so we were familiar with the bartender. He and I had a common interest in the Soldier of Fortune magazine. We had hardly anything else in common, so the discussion usually started and ended on this topic. He was not a bad guy, but a little too tightly wound. If I remember correctly, he was also in a twelve-step program that I felt at the time as a symptom of insanity. His interest in the magazine, however, far exceeded my own. He was small, but he actually wanted to become a mercenary. It felt crazy to me, but it did not matter. He took care of us, we took care of him, and if the interview was late, we could always discuss the technical advantages and reliability of the AK47. Also drinks at the house have a price. My curiosity about Soldier of Fortune affected international politics that employed mercenaries. I also used the magazine as a source material for my artwork. Occasionally there was an article about the Irish Republican Army, but I was not in the mood to join them. It never hurt to have a friendly bartender in your corner, so I refined the conversation as best I could. I suspected he was crazy and that one day he might break out into a one-man orgy of violence, so I kept a respectful distance.
He came to the end of the bar, but he did not want to bring us drinks or talk about Soldier of Fortune. An avid gunner, he probably noticed the tell-tale lump under Rocco's shirt. He said softly, "You know the woman these two older men are talking to? She's not what they think." We were not sure what he meant. In my case, I was drunk and my pull was as bad as the rest of me. She looked presentable from a distance, if her sense of style could be ignored. If the implication was that she was a prostitute, I doubted that either Rocco or my dad would find it negative. Maybe things would be less complicated for the three if they had a common crime. "Is she a working girl?" He whispered, "No, she's a transvestite." Kevin and I turned our heads together to the right. A more critical analysis of this change confirmed his assessment. Oddly enough, these two drunken villains did not seem to know the current situation, although they took a closer look. That could not end well. As so often with Mike, he was in the men's room at the crucial moment and missed the bartender's warning.
While writing, I considered the possibility that Kevin and I overreacted and misunderstood threat analysis. That does not explain that the two pirates used it, but God knows what the hell they talked about. It did not look as if they knew the score, but maybe they did. Maybe Al and Rocco found the conversation funny. It seemed plausible. I am so wrong that I never miss the opportunity. The situation seemed to us to have all the ingredients of a perfect storm.
I recently discussed the subject with Kevin for the first time in years. I asked him about his general impression of the evening. He said, "Shit, I was just glad nobody was shot." My later and more benevolent analysis of the situation collapsed with his answer, but I kept going. "Kevin, is it possible we overreacted and Al and Rocco knew they were talking to a transvestite?" "No man," he said, "no fucking chance." I asked him a question that I knew that if answered in opposition to my revisionist theory, it would collapse the entire theoretical house of cards I wanted to construct. "You do not really think they shot her, do you?" "As drunk as those two idiots that night, I'm sure there's a lot of that night I can not remember, but I'm relieved that nobody was shot." His view reinforced my initial fear that we had stared into the dark abyss of violence.
Although they were hedonists, both Al and Rocco were old and did not know the more subtle developments in contemporary social customs. We decided that it would be wrong to hold back the truth. There was a possibility that nothing would happen if we left them to their own devices, but we did not trust fate. I hoped nobody would be shot, but then they were pretty drunk. With a weapon knocked over your head or thrown down a staircase, disaster would be enough. Rocco was always sociable, but an underlying force lurked under his affable demeanor. He was a criminal after all, otherwise he would not have walked around with my dad. He was also quite tall, drunk and armed. If the shit hit the fan with Rocco, there was everything Kevin and I could do about it. We had experience fighting in tandem, but there was nothing two hyenas could do against a drunken and armed mastodon.
Our friend Mike was useless in violent situations. He had a quick tongue, a bad attitude and nothing that could support the quality. He was also a working junkie. His indiscretions may be the result of his habit or a temporary inability to sustain it. It was not unusual to get involved in fighting because of Mike's rapier joke and his inability or unwillingness to fight. Only a few weeks before he stood idly by and watched a close friend of us being beaten like hell by four men. Michael could watch his friends being beaten, but his friends could not, even though they knew he was wrong and deserved a heavy ass kick. It was against the code, whether he attributed it to him or not. Although he was clever and funny, at worst he was a liability and no help at his best. He could not be trusted, so our only option was to stop him.
My father's temper was inevitable as I grew up. He never beat me until I was sixteen, and I returned the favor by slapping a lamp over his head. He acted violently against others. He was 6 "tall and clunky." Once he crossed the bar at Hannigan's (69th and Ludlow, across from the Tower Theater) and strangled a customer until the man croaked an apology His speed and brutality surprised me, I never heard what triggered the attack, but it could have been a gambling debt, poor bastard had no chance, he was probably as shocked as I felt he was provoked ,
Kevin and I were aware that our intervention could be detrimental. They were presently behaving, but the truth could possibly disturb that sociable balance. Al and Rocco were very drunk and beyond the mind. Two drunken repressions, a gun and a transvestite seemed to be a recipe for disaster.
We have a happy break. Rocco and my dad were not focused in their drunken state. They finally went downstairs to seek new and improved entertainment. Had the transvestite lost its shine? There was no way to know. Kevin and I weighed our options and decided that they were all suckling. We felt that the situation had to be addressed before the field could be changed. With luck, they would be too drunk, too complacent and too lazy to go upstairs after the news. When we found the two bastards, their condition had deteriorated noticeably. They talked and laughed loudly and it was hard to get a word up. We finally found an opening and explained the situation as diplomatically as possible. To our horror they rejected us. They pretended we were crazy! They told us that we should fuck each other and get rid of us like rude children. Is it possible that they knew it was a shapeshifter? These two hooligans were unfathomable at the best of times, making it difficult to determine what they knew or did not know. People whose professions demand deception learn to present a blank expression.
We really had no concerns about the sexual preference of the transvestite. We lacked morality, so their morals were not questioned. Nobody has accused her of running her free drinks game when she did that. Every man for himself. Live and let live. The problem was that these two drunks were able to lose their minds and we could not influence them. The other problem was my own drunken condition. That made my threat analysis (and everything else) a bit suspicious.
After our failed attempt to ensure civil protection, we returned to the upstairs bar. Maybe we would be luckier with the third in this bizarre triangle. When we got to the top, we first noticed that our buddy Mike had changed places. He was now at the far end of the bar, involved in a witty fight with the transvestite. At that moment we damn well needed no complication. Now we had to explain the situation to this ass-clown before we went to Miss Thing with a plan. We went to the other end of the bar and joined in their conversation. At close range, their deceptions faded considerably, perhaps it was the Adam's apple. One of us distracted the transvestite while the other questioned Mike. He picked up the news surprisingly well. He actually took it too well. He said he did not care what he was, that he was having fun and that we should damn well leave him alone. It was the third person to tell us to leave in ten minutes and it got a bit boring. Truth-telling these three fools was a thankless task. It was not uncommon for a quiet evening in the city to turn into a circus with three rings. This night had no hope for a quiet evening, considering the staff. Kevin and I were not very experienced in calming situations. We were much better at escalation. Everyone else in the equation had made it clear at that point that they thought we were assholes. Of course they were right. We were assholes, just not for the reasons they considered assholes. We had good intentions, even though our analysis and strategy have captivated us.
After Mike (sorted) or at least informed, we turned our attention to this dark object of desire. We explained that their habits did not bother us. We applauded her courage to realize her dreams. We had no problems with transvestites. Our only concern was that the two mature gentlemen might not work so well when the sting comes. We just wanted to avoid trouble, trouble that could lead to exclusion from a preferred watering hole and / or arrest. She smiled smartly and cooed, "I can take care of myself." We replied, "Um … no, you can not fucking do it." We explained that these two old gentlemen were not exactly docile and at least one of them had a hidden weapon. They were much too drunk to expect even half rational behavior from them. Rocco and Al were not exactly enlightened individuals. We strongly recommended that you change the venue at least temporarily. After a short period of resistance, she agreed to leave after we offered her money. How much money it took to get rid of them is lost in the black hole of memory. She stepped through the door on the first floor, still bathed in fur and glitter. It was a spectacle, an artificial Christmas tree that ran on high heels. Despite the small size of the bar, Al and Rocco were too plastered to even notice their extravagant departure.
We had no further contact with Al and Rocco that night, and the subject was too bizarre to talk about later. They were so drunk that it is possible that they forgot about it in the morning. I am surprised that I remember the incident as well as I remember him. After our goal was achieved, I lost interest in the matter. Problem solved. It was like she never existed. At least we thought that was true until we talked to Mike again.
He insulted us that she left. "I liked her," he whined about his loss like a Catholic schoolgirl with skinny knees. Kevin und ich sahen uns nur ungläubig an, schüttelten den Kopf und gingen weg. Eigentlich haben wir uns nicht darum gekümmert, ob Mike mit ihr gegangen ist oder nicht. Das war seine Sache. Er war sowieso ein seltsamer Vogel. Wir haben nur versucht, sie vor den anderen beiden Dummköpfen zu beschützen. Ihre Dinosaurierrasse war fast ausgestorben, aber sie waren immer noch gefährlich. Keiner von ihnen war besonders vorausschauend im Bereich der Sexualpolitik oder irgendeiner anderen Politik in dieser Angelegenheit. Wir haben das Problem gelöst, indem wir sie bezahlt haben, aber jetzt hat Mike gebuttert. Fick ihn. Ich habe genug Kämpfe für diesen kleinen Bastard geführt, dass er unsere Bemühungen besser hätte würdigen sollen, auch wenn er mit den Ergebnissen oder unserem Ansatz nicht einverstanden war. Ich unterdrückte den Drang, ihm die Hand zu geben.
Es blieb uns nichts anderes übrig, als unseren Cocktailkonsum wieder aufzunehmen. Die Erinnerung verlässt mich über diesen Punkt hinaus. Die Heimreise ist ein Rätsel. Ich bin mir ziemlich sicher, dass ich nicht gegangen bin. Es war schon eine Herausforderung, in diesem Zustand aufrecht zu bleiben. Ich war so betrunken, dass ich genauso viele Chancen hatte zu fliegen wie nach Hause zu fahren. Ich hätte das Auto verunglückt, bevor ich jemals hineingekommen wäre.
Trotz meiner eigenen optimistischen und wahnhaften Erwartungen meldete ich mich am nächsten Tag zur Arbeit, spät und verkatert. Wenn ich noch nicht betrunken gewesen wäre, hätte ich vielleicht krank gerufen. Normalerweise hatte ich bei diesem Job Probleme wegen verschiedener serieller Indiskretionen. Es muss verdammt wichtig gewesen sein, dass ich aufgetaucht bin, sonst bezweifle ich, dass ich es geschafft hätte. Obwohl ich auf der Morgenfahrt betrunken war, handelte ich es ohne Zwischenfälle aus.
Als ich mich dem Job näherte, blieb ich an einem Straßenstand stehen und holte mir ein Speck-Ei-Käse-Sandwich mit einem langen Brötchen. Es war mein Ritual am Samstagmorgen. Mein Chef brachte immer seinen Scheißhund zur Arbeit, einen untrainierten männlichen Vizsla. Es war rot und hatte einen ausgeprägten Knoten auf der Oberseite des Kopfes, der es so dumm aussehen ließ, wie es tatsächlich war. Ich liebe Hunde, aber ich konnte diese verdammte Sau nicht leiden. Wenn Sie sich nicht schützen würden, würde es auf Sie springen und Sie direkt in die Eier schlagen. Ich verbrachte den größten Teil des Arbeitstages mit meiner Hand, die meinen Schritt bedeckte. Es sieht nicht gut aus und macht einen miesen ersten Eindruck. Menschen, die mit dem Hund vertraut sind, verstanden. Die meisten unserer Stammkunden hielten ihre Pakete als defensive Taktik. Es muss seltsam ausgesehen haben, als alle herumstanden und sich an die Gurgel klammerten. Der Hund war unerbittlich und sprang auf, wenn Sie Augenkontakt hatten. Es passierte den ganzen Tag. Ich habe es mehrmals geschlagen. Da niemand sonst die Disziplin verstärkte und dies zum Teil der unterdurchschnittlichen Intelligenz des Hundes zu verdanken war, hatte dies keine Auswirkungen. Es hätte geholfen, das nutzlose Stück Scheiße zu trainieren, aber mein Chef hatte das Gefühl, dass das Trainieren und Kauen eines Hundes seine Freiheit verletzt. Er bevorzugte seine Hunde in einem fast wilden Zustand. Ich kann nur an einen anderen Hund denken, den ich so sehr hasste. Ich bevorzuge Hunde, die mich beißen, gegenüber Hunden, die mich regelmäßig in die Hoden schlagen. Aber der Hund war das kleinste meiner Probleme an diesem Morgen. Ich war verkatert und wahnsinnig hungrig. Ich packte mein Sandwich aus und griff es unersättlich an. Als ich eine Bestellung von einem Kunden entgegennahm, ließ ich dummerweise die Hand fallen, die das Sandwich an meiner Seite hielt. Die Vizsla hat es mir direkt aus der Hand gewischt! Ich habe es verloren!
Ich bin jetzt nicht stolz darauf, aber ich habe den Hund so hart geschlagen, wie ich konnte, direkt auf seine holprige Noggin. Es fiel wie erschossen zu Boden. Es blieb einige Sekunden lang bewusstlos. Bis zu diesem Moment hatte ich keine Ahnung, dass es möglich war, einen Hund auszuschalten. Zum Glück war mein Chef in seinem Büro, als dies passierte. Er kam schließlich heraus, um den Lärm zu untersuchen, aber er telefonierte zum Zeitpunkt des Vorfalls mit einem Kunden. Als er endlich an der Theke ankam, hatte sich der Hund genug erholt, um aufzustehen, aber er wackelte auf seinen langen, dünnen Beinen. Obwohl vertikal, war es immer noch auf der seltsamen Straße. Ich gab zu, dass ich den Hund geschlagen habe, aber ich habe ihm nicht gesagt, dass ich ihn rausgeschmissen habe. Er wusste, dass meine Version der Geschichte nicht glaubwürdig war, aber zur Ehre von Visla hat mich der Hund nie verpfiffen und ich wurde nicht gefeuert. Keine zwei Minuten nachdem sich die Dinge beruhigt hatten, sprang der Hund auf und versuchte mich in die Nüsse zu schlagen. Ich begann mich belagert zu fühlen. Als der Tag brummte eskalierte der Kater. Es war unerträglich. Ich war zu verkatert, um überhaupt zu Mittag zu essen. Im Gegensatz zu großen Brocken in den letzten vierundzwanzig Stunden bleibt die Erinnerung an den Kater recht lebendig.
Gegen 11:00 Uhr klingelte das Geschäftstelefon und ich ging ungern ran. Ich hatte kein Interesse daran, mit irgendjemandem zu sprechen, geschweige denn mit unseren Kunden. It wasn't a customer though, it was a collect call from a jail in Atlantic City. I accepted the charges. It was difficult to predict the morning getting any worse but it did. My father was on the phone. He was still so fucked up that it was impossible to understand a word he said. It literally sounded to me like he was speaking Chinese. Al was laughing maniacally through the entire unintelligible conversation. There was no laughing on my end of the phone at all. I was hungover, irritable, hungry and I had just knocked a fucking dog out. I didn't need any more challenges to my patience. These two clowns were a pain in the ass. The old man really pissed me off by speaking in tongues. Gibberish was totally unacceptable in my fragile condition. Without pointing out his linguistic failure, I asked him if Rocco was available to speak. Fortunately Rocco got on the phone and was slightly more coherent than my father. He said that they had been arrested in Atlantic City. I shuddered to imagine their long drive there. They were both post-verbal before they left the bar! How could either of them have driven for an hour in that condition? Now they had a plan and to my horror the plan involved me. They wanted me to leave work, drive to Atlantic City and post bail for them. The idea was ludicrous. I had no desire to see either them anytime soon let alone be responsible for their release from jail. I felt sick. I also had no ready cash after the previous night of debauchery, despite the fact that the drinks were free. Either I was a very sporty tipper the night before or I gave all of my money away in tips and bribes or I lost all of it on the barroom floor. The reason for my poverty was a moot point. It didn't matter why. I was flat broke. I spent my last few dollars on a sandwich that had been scarfed up by a dog as useless as tits on a bull.
There was only one option as far as I was concerned. I told them to go fuck themselves, sleep it off in the drunk tank and come up with a plan that did not involve me. I had neither the desire nor the wherewithal to pick them up. I had no compassion for them whatsoever. I was penniless. They got arrested on their own merits. They could get themselves bailed out the same way. Jail seemed like a swell place for those two jerk-offs. Fuck you. Nein.
Later I asked my father about the arrest. Neither he nor Rocco would talk about it. To this day I don't know what happened. It didn't make sense that they would stonewall me over a simple DUI. They were quite open about far more scandalous matters. The only thing they volunteered was that Rocco's uncle bailed them out. Whatever the reason for their incarceration, there was never any talk of a court appearance and neither of them ever became long term guests of the state of New Jersey. Perhaps Rocco's uncle had connections. It is useless to speculate. They are both dead and the truth died with them.
Every once in a while I would ask Al about it, just to see if he if he would let his guard down and come clean. Sometimes I brought it up just to break his balls. My father discussed the events preceding the arrest but never directly about the arrest itself. It amazed me that he had any memories of the night at all. Over a period of years he steadfastly refused to give me a straight answer. This was no surprise, Getting the truth out of my father was like collecting rain water with a sieve. It was an act of abject futility.
Obfuscation and evasiveness were my father's forte. He was impossible to pin down. It was useless to pursue a topic with him once the nonsense started. He would give you irrelevant answers as long as you had the stamina to ask pertinent questions. Lying was a tool to him, like a weed-whacker or a hammer. I am sure that the Atlantic City police quickly tired of his machinations and found his bullshit annoying but their contact with him was relatively brief compared to mine. I grew up with him and share his DNA. Both of these concepts are sobering.
Michael Macfeat 12/24/12