Throw Caution to the Wind









This book is dedicated to anyone who has failed while in the throes or while attempting to gallantly attain sought-after goals. This book is dedicated to those, stout of heart, who may have fallen short because of the small-minded or those who lacked faith in them, or those who have ignored the brave for what might be ambivalent reasons. I say, “glory to thee, the doers,” who have been rejected because of stodgy subjective-ness, lack of connected resources or just bad luck.

“Throw Caution to the Wind, Almost a True Story,” sprouted from the pains of rejection and was once steam driven by unbridled emotion that came brewing over because of my sense of boiling anger. Now that its creator has long calmed; how it will live its literary life is anybody’s guess.

Cervantes’ main theme that was written out within his thought-provoking prologue deals with his primary hero the gallant knight and fool, Don Quijote. Cervantes stated emphatically that he (the author), was the fictional book’s father. Same as most caring fathers he begged from his reading audience a certain forgiveness to excuse his offspring’s obvious flaws. Four hundred years later I echo the same. Still, while leaping the bounds of time, the Cervantes’ story and the riveting prose about the Man of LaMancha still remains one of the top of stories ever told.

But I can only take partial credit for my literary child behind these pages because real-life characters who have touched my own life are a large part mixed within this hopefully literary mosaic. Other instances within the story regarding; people, places and events are pure fiction, germinated in my mind and typed out solely by me. You see, in some ways, “Throw Caution to the Wind” isn’t a full-fledged son but merely my stepchild.

There have been times, I’ve wondered, if this rehash has the mettle to makeup a credible piece of writing on its own or is it merely a bastard son given a seedy birth by a seedy character like myself.

Yet, please don’t feel misled; this author takes full responsibility for the actions and imperfections springing from his stepchild and I also take responsibility for the story’s tone and irreverence, along with the oscillating of tense which often shifts from the first to third person. Hopefully the voice of the later tense is more refined and a more formal communicator than that of the rogue described in the first person, who’s me of course, yet I offer no apologies.

So, during this awkward moment, for brevity’s sake, it’s time to invite you to begin to turn the pages. My only consideration, from above and beyond, is that I hope you do enjoy the story.

Lou Christine





     Minutia. Here I am, fantasizing. Why not? These are the worst of times and then again, these are the worst of times. My piss ant existence is plummeting in an irreversible tailspin heading downward to a sad-sad end.

Fantasizing enables me to temporarily sugar coat my dreary state. It’s the placebo that works. I find day dreaming the best form of meditation, prompting a lethargic mind. While daydreaming one doesn’t tucker out nor does the insides of one’s mouth become dry.

By fantasizing I’m able to achieve the similar nirvana often reached by long-distance runners after they’ve run through the gears and have achieved their second breaths and who have then blanked their minds.

I’ll tell you about this fantasy stuff.

My method is to tell rather than show. Seems I’m handicapped or just lazy, and I either don’t desire to or am incapable of showing. I suppose I intentionally stray off the mark when it comes to producing today’s most-sought-after literature. My lean-on-you delivery might be construed as didactic, not as efficient as others who describe times and events in a more clever manner. I only wish dumb fucks read more. Then maybe I’d have a following. Of course I’m not referring to you, you’re actually here, you’re different. If you choose to stay with me I’ll try to pin point the circumstances that led me on this adventure.

I’m far from Woody Allen! Yet like, Woody, I make it a habit to break the fourth wall. But other than having money in the bank with fame and perhaps getting a little Oriental this-and-that now and then I don’t wanna be like Woody.

Instead, try and imagine my yakking away, as being an ole buggar stuck in the mud with nowhere else to go who’s spouting off towards whoever will listen.

So, rather than delving right into it—I’ll do some fantasizing to dilute the debilitating effects.

Today, Carrie Fisher is the focus of my fantasy! That’s right, you bet, it’s Carrie’s image that my fantasy calls for. I’ve decided it is she who I need. She’s the same Carrie Fisher, the movie-actress novelist . . . the Hollywood starlet . . . the busty brunette who played Princess Somebody in the Star Wars sagas.

What’s all this about Carrie Fisher, you ask? . . . I figure, Carrie and I could easily enough become deeply in love. She could soothe the pain.

I’ve decided, she’s just perfect for me. I hardly noticed her during the run of Star Wars . Oh, I saw ’em. Mostly, I recall that Darth Vader guy (bad news), and Luke, (one-time pretty-boy, goodie-two-shoes), and the so-called Force (bullshit), and then there was that swishy, pain-in-the-ass butler (fag). I especially remember the little-tin, garbage can.(closest thing to the real deal) making funny noises, noises that went “nurt-nurt-nurt-nurt” . . . and then, there was the big-fuzzy guy. (I liked him too.)

Hopefully, the mention, regarding my sudden interest in Ms Fisher won’t be parlayed and turn into incriminating evidence during a future-stalking trial.

Don’t worry. I’m not one of those maniacal crackpots whose delusions go overboard, or a fool who might take drastic measures to harass our Carrie. Nor am I eccentric or the type who would have the verve to try to pull some weirdo stunt like renting billboard space on Sunset Strip: “CARRIE, MARRY ME!”

Nah, no chance, a firm foundation would have to be forged, which then would lead to a healthy relationship. And I remind, you, that it would strictly be up to Carrie.

So, you might say—Carrie Fisher—suited for me?

Sure! Why, not?

Why should a knockout such as she be off-limits for a pug such as me? I realize she maintains high standards, especially about her men.

She’s a star, a sought-after guest on talk shows and we can’t deny she’s a real looker—well as far as my appetite in women is concerned. Why would she shine me on just because I’m no, Mel Gibson?

She could be presently involved in a relationship. That bump in the road shouldn’t knock me out of the running. I’m already attracted to her. That’s half the battle, isn’t it?

She’s bright, intuitive and pragmatic! She’s a dynamite writer! Wrote that Post Cards From The Edge. Hollywood adapted the novel into feature film staring Shirley MaClain and Meryl Streep . . .

I read somewhere, she penned Surrender The Pink, whatever the hell that means? I probably can figure it out. I do possess an imagination.

Perhaps I’m going out on a limb here because what I’ve come up with could be taken the wrong way and I could deplete the chance of picking up additional reading audiences. I suspect most of Carrie’s followers are a hen house full of on-the-edge, mostly, lonely-ass, white women.

Then, come think about the very fix I find myself in right now . . . and to further self scrutinize and shed light on my present situation and how I’m moaning, groaning and shamelessly groveling . . . Yowza! . . . I’ve become more like a lonely-assed, white woman, than lonely-ass white women.

Hold on guys, ’cause this is not going to be some bleed-your-heart gay thing. However, don’t be surprised . . . I do possess a feminine side. I enjoyed Post Cards From The Edge, saw the movie too, and I’ve read Delusions of Grandma, and I’d have to say that our Carrie has a firm grasp on it.

I’m starting to figure—Carrie could be perfect for a guy such as me!

I didn’t intend to spell it out just yet, nor did I intend to portray my aspirations so graphically. Hopefully, I’m far from a crude guy. Normally, I don’t usually begin the writing process in such a way especially during early development, but indeed, now is probably the best time to share the bottom line, to let you be aware of my true intentions. It’s like this . . . I could envision us fucking. (That’s Carrie and I not you and me.)

Why, Carrie and I could have it all!

I can almost see us! We’d be rocking and rolling—and in addition to the sweaty lovemaking I’d be giving her a full dose of that mo’fuckin’ Philly talk while deliciously putting the meat to her. I’d be trying to sound real sexy, mumbling in low tones, the same way that Barry White guy does, baby-babying her to no end.

Perhaps I’d be talking that way so to disguise my chump-sounding, nasal accent. Soon enough she’d become familiar with the honks and quacks amplifying from my East Coast, big-city routine. Hopefully she’d fall in love with the real deal. I couldn’t keep up the Barry-White routine.

Once I established a beachhead, I’d be off and running at the mouth, rehashing and dazzling Carrie with bushels-full of swashbuckling stories, about my hoodlum, state-of-punkdom, days back when I was a kid.

In between our yelps of passion she too could be piecing together compelling passages in a more-dignified manner. While her arms were wrapped around the back of my neck, her thin lips would be doing a hula just inside my dying-for-affection ear—singing sweet-syrupy praises.

She’d be putting together clever sentences, jam-packed with colorful adjectives, along with action-Jackson verbs, telling me the thrill and glamour and what it must have been-like growing up in the heyday of Hollywood.

Oh, Carrie, you’re so sexy! We’re definitely meant for one another.

Her dad’s Eddie Fisher, ya know; the guy from the late fifties, the South-Philly crooner who made it big on the Arthur Godfrey radio show. That’s where Eddie received national attention, and then he sang on TV shows such as Ed Sullivan. He had one big hit, Oh My Papa.

Oh, my, papa . . . to me you were so wonderful . . . ” Remember?

He’s the guy who deserted poor Debbie so to start banging Liz Taylor just after the death of Liz’s fourth-or-fifth husband, one Mike Todd, a Hollywood maverick who met an untimely death when he perished in an airplane crash.

Todd crashed while at the top of his game.

Upon hearing the shattering news of Mike Todd’s sudden death, the Fishers, that’s Eddie and Debbie, why they compassionately rushed to Liz’s mourning side. Around the same time the Fishers gave birth to Carrie.

Now there’s a connection. The common denominator comparing Carrie and I—we are both Jewish by injection.

Eddie, same as my old man, is Jewish. My old man, same as Eddie, was banging a shikzah, who of course was my mother. Carrie and I are byproducts of such. Only difference, Eddie was legally married to his shikzah.

Well, at the time of Mike’s demise, Eddie’s career seemed on a downward spiral—the same direction mine seems to be going now. I mean: how many times do schmucks wanna hear Oh My Papa?

Hanging out with Liz meant instant status, thrusting him back in the limelight.

Besides, Liz presented herself as a pretty-hot tamale. Ho . . . that Liz was a looker! When Eddie began banging Liz, Debbie Reynolds was considered by white-bread movie fans as the girl-next-door type. All had been close friends.

So, Eddie went for the gusto, dumped Debbie, and gave himself to Liz.

After going public and a couple of whirlwind moments, ole Eddie actually went and married the black-widow Liz. The disingenuous quotes lipped by loveless lovers, like Eddie and Liz, rang out in the press, “We’ve never been happier!”

When the dust settled and the tears dried and when Liz squirmed for something more vibrant she sought a higher plane. Eddie didn’t possess the staying power. Take into account, if comparing, she experienced a dazzling life beforehand with a real man such as Mike Todd.

Eddie’s persona: A little too greasy, too lazy and too conceited—he appeared weak—a-not-so-great-looking of a hombre and a not-so-talented of a schmuck. Perhaps he’s a lot like me.

For a brief, shining moment he offered intrinsic value I suppose . . .

Perhaps he packs a heavy-duty schlong?

Leaving out the schlong part Eddie and I may be bookends.

But, once the “cause” raised “effect’s” ugly head . . . Once the vivacious, voluptuous-of-a-vixen such as Liz Taylor flew over to Italy to star in the not-so-classic, Cleopatra . . . and once exposed to and while deluged and draped with a heavy dose of that, Sir Richard Burton bullshit, Eddie would be back to singing Oh My Papa. He became a faded image.

Richard Burton, with his ever-so-precise Welch accent, and overpowering stage presence and with well-placed flattery . . . well then that was the beginning-of-the-end for the one who was about to become Poor Eddie.

For the same price of admission, Liz got up close and personal with that character-building, pockmarked face, all molded to form one Richard Burton . . .

Well my brothers and sisters it became apparent a schlemiel such as Eddie, could never hold a Shakespearean candle to the high-powered wattage of Sir Richard.

Nobody gave a shit about Eddie. The public stayed sore for what he pulled on poor Debbie. The guys were plain jealous and the women were livid with rage. The public in general was primarily intrigued with Liz. She survived, as she does today.

While Eddie professed to the press, adamantly denying any rift between he and Liz, the foreign paparazzi were snapping torrid pictures revealing exposes soon to be plastered over the front pages of the world’s tabloids; tabloids showing Dickie boy sprawled all over Liz like some love-starved horny sailor. The camera lenses zeroed in framing Sir Richard pressing his irresistible self against Liz in skimpy bathing suits, during lovey-dovey cruises in the Mediterranean. The high-profile lovers were often captured on Kodak film smooching in nightclubs.

With Eddie out of the way the illustrious Liz and verbose Richard went on to get drunk, leaving Eddie to hold the bag.

Poor Debbie on the other hand was sentenced to ten years in Tabloidville. Thank goodness Carrie was spared and tucked safely out of the picture.

Carrie and I might be from the same tribe?

Still though, the Jews won’t have us, cause our mothers weren’t Jewish.

I’ve heard from some of my best friends, those who are Jewish, in order to be considered a true Jew by other Jews—your mother has to be Jewish.

So, where does that leave Carrie and I?

Regardless, Hitler would have fried us.

Fortunately, it didn’t happen, but the premise leads me to think about a time in yesteryear.

My ears can almost pick up on frantic conversations uttered somewhere in Europe, during the early Forties. I can see somebody in my shoes; some half-Jew boy, shackled, stripped of his pride and riches, sequestered inside a barbed-wire fence. And there he’d be, arguing, doing his best, talking fast, with an exasperated look on his face while debating a stone-faced storm trooper . . . The yid be a-stating that there just had to be some mistake.

Hit the shower, Jules!

*    *    *

So, here I am, with only you, in such a state, trudging along the same as a lonely assed despondent while foolishly fantasizing about Carrie Fisher, hoofing down the boardwalk in Ventnor, New Jersey, on Memorial Day weekend, 1995.

Built up over the sand just beneath my feet stands the boardwalk, a sturdy surface providing both vista and a direct-walking route towards Atlantic City.

I’m heading in the direction of Bally’s Grand Casino. It’s the first casino one comes across moving North along the world-famous boardwalk. This part of the boardwalk has yet to turn commercial; it’s in the best sense of the word a boardwalk—merely boards nailed many times over to thick wooden beams supported by wooden pylons buried in the sand and corralled on both sides by a steal-piped railing.

Beyond the rails, on my left, stand sky-high condos aligning themselves juxtaposition like, offering upscale tenants a birds-eye ocean view.

The beach and the ocean are to my right. There’s no riffraff or Steel Pier, or other Atlantic City honky-tonk. But in the distance about two miles ahead, just beyond the Ventnor City limits, I can make out the casino’s marquee.

*    *    *

So, let’s sum up this fantasizer’s situation. I’m sorry assed. I got 6K left to my name—not near enough to patch an agonizing financial hole I’ve dug myself into. I’ve already concluded—it’s too late! I’ve left the launching pad. There’s no-going back. I’m on a self-imposed express. My only scheduled stop: Destiny!

You see I sold off my possessions back in Hawaii, six-thousand miles away, and regrettably gave up my sweet girlfriend, a terrific person, who I began to let down. I’ve dwindled away a lifetime’s worth of promise and have carved away at my savings. Who knows what-other hard-earned intangibles I’ve pandered? I’ve spent and wasted relationships, opportunities and ambition! You get the picture.

I’m heading for the casino to make a final score or go down the fucking drain. By down the drain I mean, I won’t settle for a Mexican standoff. It’s either me or them. If I don’t win big tonight I’m ending the misery by dawn, by offering myself up as a used-to-be and will pull off the dastardly deed to the fullest extent of the hyphenated term.

There’s a strong chance I’ll be traveling off to eternity. Hopefully, I’ll have the courage to embrace the light and move onward to where ever or what ever.

The never-ending optimist always looks for divine-like intervention. A long shot of a miracle could ensue. Further thinking I could auspiciously run into Carrie, and then she’d be able to rescue me!

Instead of a divine encounter, or a chance meeting with Carrie, my-front view picks-up on two middle-aged women.

They’re walking towards me. They’re engrossed in conversation.

Because I believe I possess psychic abilities, I’ll presume, why I think they’re so engrossed. I bet they’re talking about men! Double my bet, I’ll boldly state they’re probably going on-and-on about how a lout of man is ruining their lives. There they are; consolatory sound boards, lamenting how some man is making them miserable.

They’re so wrapped up they’re oblivious to the outside world. Oh, they’re yakking how indifference is tearing their hearts apart; how they’re no longer that sweet thing he once fluttered ’round, and how their desires, in his view, no longer carry any clout.

Yeah, I could jump right in on the conversation just give me the names. Seems that’s what the bitches do. They talk about men. Talk about how they’re getting fucked over.

None of them would be that way if they possessed just one thing—if they only had dicks—they probably wouldn’t talk about men so much!

According to, Freud, it’s all a dick thing.

*    *    *

The scene shifts. Now I’m passing by herds of retired people. Ventnor’s a retired peoples utopia.

Some sit on benches for afternoon sun, in cloisters, like landed flocks of wing-weary birds.

Overhearing their bird talk my ears pick up on comprehendible peeps and chirps. For the most part I’m wrapped up in my own sad spirits. Still though, I remain focused, steady at the wheel while fixed fast in the present.

As stated I’ve taken on a gallant demeanor and am doing my earnest to alleviate fear. After all I’m heading towards destiny.

“May God strike me down dead!” caws one old-bird of a man.

“Oh heavens!” chirps back mother goose, tsk, tsking . . . her God-forbidding what was called for from the very Creator by the old disheveled rooster! She’s donned in white-designer-sweats, the top is highlighted with an embroidered-sequined logo. Her feathers are dyed auburn. They’re hairdresser stiff covered by a silk scarf. Her regal presence tarnished by those rhinestone-rimmed glasses.

There are more tweets coming off the beaks of the standing-around chatterboxes. In the midst of the ‘may-god-strike-me-down-dead’ conversation, I steal a fleeting glance. I zero in on he, an albatross, the ancient one, who wings the raw nerve to call upon God no less.

Seems to me the deflated-looking guy may have died months ago! God’s curse perhaps, keeping him alive, but barely. He’s emaciated, has sores on his exposed skin and it’s as if he’s dead already.

I’m moving further along, passing vignettes. Another woman on another bench a little further down the boards whines to a fellow bench sharer, whose passing portrait is already beyond my scope. “Nonsense dear, the weight becomes you.”

I’d have to rubberneck at least 180 degrees and judge for myself, the plumpness of the target of her comment . . . I don’t . . . I’m able to imagine.

On the other side of the piped railing by the sea, early seasoned bathers sit on folding chairs. Their blankets are spread: beach balls, shovels and plastic pails lay about. Coolers weigh down the beach blankets. The Atlantic is calm, grayish blue. The sky is clear blue.

The walkway has many fast-walking middle-aged woman who quick step wishfully so they might shed some of that fatzo-thighed, zugga beef and cottage cheese that has built up on their rumps during the past winter.

They’ll shelve all that concern and the idea of exercise by dinnertime, when they dine at Jo-Jo’s Restaurante. They’ll suspend ideas about cutting down when they order mouthwatering calamari and the butter-basted pasta shells, exquisitely stuffed with ricotta cheese. That will be when they’re locked in fellowship with Ethel and Herb and Vivian and Ron and the rest of their solid friends. Friends I don’t have, friends I yearn for.

My mind’s churning as I continue to trudge along, downtrodden.

I’ve always been careful not to focus attention on myself. Still, my emotions are turbulent and about to spillover. I’ve done my best to suppress the pain. That’s where the fantasy part comes into play. It’s my only way out.

The irrepressible leech of a soul that dwells inside me has lustfully been checking out the women as they scoot past. I’m sizing them up, admiring their asses, their faces, the rest. I’ll fantasize somewhat . . . hmm, maybe one’s a relatively attractive divorcee or better yet, maybe a young-lonesome widow, one who still maintains some of her girlishness, yeah, that’s the ticket!

If I could just find one who might be willing to comfort me and provide me a safe port in such a storm.

What am I saying? I’m saving myself for Carrie. . . Fuck it! . . I’ve got to ride this shit out or just go ahead and end it all.

*    *    *

Let me calm myself here. The constant pursuit of women’s affections has landed me in plenty of hot water. Perhaps an unhealthy way of thinking; but it’s been a personal obsession and devastating preoccupation with nothing valid to offer me except the very idea or possibility of sex.

I realize, I’m not alone . . .

In my case, those desires remind me of another time—a time in my own life—when I lay flat on my back, naked, under a green sheet inside an operating-room’s recovery area.

Almost out cold, while laying on a gurney, all appeared fuzzy. I remained dizzy, a bile-like taste lingered in my mouth. I felt absolutely awful.

While coming back from the dead, what should have been paramount for me right then should have been to be ever so thankful to God, realizing that I was alive!

At least, I should have questioned in my mind if the operation was a success? Did they find anything malignant?

During that blurry instant I did understand that I had survived the surgeon’s knife.

Because it was a banner day a cavalcade of strewn-about, semiconscious patients were squeezed into the recovery room. The room was jammed with gurneys with patients parked up against one another.

There I lay, closer-to-death, more so than any other instance in my life.

I began to come around.

Next to me, only inches away, still out-cold lay a young woman.

Slimy-like, I summed up that she too lay naked underneath the green sheet.

Despite the trauma and even with me being bleary eyed, my notorious, seedy, sex drive remained alive. Like a peeking Johnnie, I stole a cheap glimpse at a partially exposed breast.

It was a defining moment, an indication how sick I really am. I could never tell Carrie, she may not understand!

*    *    *

If only Carrie would come outside of one of those condominiums! Maybe she would. Lets say after making a pilgrimage to New Jersey from Hollywood, or Florence, Italy, where I understand she resides part time.

Perhaps she’d be in AC, visiting one of her dad’s favorite-old aunts who’s retired here. Like a good daughter of a grateful nephew, who was once a big-deal, she could be visiting that aunt who’s down-the-shore convalescing from an operation somewhere up in Philadelphia. Yeah, she could be right here taking care of that old lady!

But, how would she know me? I certainly wouldn’t recognize her, ’cause like most celebs she’d probably be wearing sunglasses and her short-brown hair would be folded up in a colorful-silk scarf, or she’d be wearing a wig; blonde platinum, her collar turned up, and maybe she’d have on a leash a spotted Dalmatian.

Imagine someone with the high-standards of Carrie Fisher on a casual walk, by chance, running across a middle-aged balding guy who looks more like Cheech Marin than Hans Solo, a chump who’s trudging along with a for-sure scowl underneath his stylish sun glasses; a guy perceived as a sap, with a chip on his shoulder, a potential powder keg. Imagine that.

How could Carrie possibly discover that I was warm and witty, and loving, and deep? I can only dream about Carrie rushing to my presence while voicing, “I noticed you walking along the boards here in Ventnor. I’m totally taken by your walk. I’ve sensed an indescribable alluring aura imbuing from you! I feel as if I’ve been mesmerized . . . with a signal for me to rush to your side, as if there’s a another force more powerful than Obie-one Kanobe’s.”

And then! Animated! Uncharacteristically Carrie might shout out, “Geronimo! . . . Ooh! . . . I’m so excited, I was just walking along here, walking my Dalmatian, while taking a break from dealing with my aunt, and in an extraordinary way, I find I’m able to see into your engaging mind and I’m fascinated by your worldliness, your incredible panache and I desire all of you . . . to embrace you, lick the peach fuzz on your head, and I wish to just crawl deep inside your wherewithal!. . . .”

Let’s not go overboard. Nah! It wouldn’t happen. Shit like that never happens to me. Never has, never will. But it seems as if everything else has . . .

Yeah, while you been; breathing, dating, marrying, and wondering, debating now and then about O.J., raising kids, growing pansies in your flower box outside the kitchen’s bay window, saving money, buying a house, a Volvo, and going off to Can-Cun, I’ve been eking out a heart-wrenching, put-your-ass-through-a-ringer existence. Christ, its been some soap opera!

*    *    *

I should start at the beginning.

Forty-eight years ago, that’s when the trouble began. I was a mere eight-days old, in Temple University Hospital and dear old mom develops a blood clot in her leg, and just like that it clogs her precious heart. All the tender-loving care and selfless nourishing an infant is supposed to have, evaporated. The Jew boy was nowhere to be found. That pussy ran back home to somebody named, Rose.

Grand mom and Aunt Dinny did a decent job, but it wasn’t the same. Of course early on, the nuns said they felt sorry for me; they praised mommy, called my passed-away mother a bona fide saint. Yet the “poor-me” sympathy jolted and knocked my self esteem down a few levels, pinning me with their pious-pointless pity, perhaps for their satisfaction, and then, by them referring to me as “the poor child.”

It was a drag. It didn’t get better as the rights of passage came to and fro. In the cub scouts I endured those father-and-son days, where all the other kids’ dads pretended they and their sons were living a life portrayed on Ozzie and Harriet.

Worse, I was positive those motherfuckers lived a charmed life. Other kids seemed so stable. It sucked man.

Then I became bad.

The nuns were the first to notice. It didn’t take too long for me to become jaded, and start hanging around with the wrong crowd, while growing up, or we could say growing down, while immersed and socially sentenced within run-down, industrialized-working-class, checkered neighborhoods.

I was related, on-my-mother’s side of the family, to a great-aunt, (my grandmother’s sister) who had taken sisterly vows of obedience, chastity and poverty, years before, in a convent wrapped in a rosary-bead-clad existence, controlled by the Church and The Order Of Saint Joseph.

Sister Galberta, that was her-nun name; she’d been a nun for decades. She remained revered. I attended a number of parochial schools, taught mostly by St. Joe nuns. So, when I started to get into trouble as a delinquent, they were the ones who became shocked and dispelled and witnessed firsthand how a picture-of-promise faded into a marred-clouded portrait of a good-boy going-bad fast.

Trouble you say? By getting-caught smoking cigarettes almost every-other day I established a reputation of being a rebel. The nuns were nipping at my heels constantly, barking that I didn’t present myself as worthy while exposed to the Holy Sacrament. They were fast to bring to my attention, how my grubby-adolescent hands were never folded piously when I returned from communion—and as for me—I never intended to level with my confessors, slimy priests, who were probably squeezing their crotches as their warped ears yearned for dirt. Wholeheartedly, I only spit out what I wanted, venial sins, stupid stuff and I never confessed to the men in black the true composition of my wicked thoughts.

No fucking way man! I would have gotten excommunicated on the spot, along with an ass whooping. So, since I was heading south I further condemned myself; I’d commit a shit load of mortal sins, pile ’em up, thumb my nose at the hypocrisy of it all and build an unshrinkable heap of condemnations with my wicked tongue taking in additional sacrilegious communions causing additional mortal sins to blight my eternal soul.

The facts: I was thinking about pussy day-and-night. The one consistent thought lingered. It was tantalizing for me to think that eventually one day a real-woman might permit me to fondle her private parts and the juicy kid in me couldn’t wait. So possessed was I, about the very idea, I’ve often wondered how come I didn’t become cross-eyed from the raving passion.

Then, there were other shining moments of delinquency. One time while feeling especially spunky, while on recess, some other little devils and myself burnt down abandoned buildings.

The news of fire and the spilling of the beans, that I was one of the suspected arsonist went over ‘just super’ with the mother superior, after a squealing, snot-nosed, second grader ratted me out; him saying I was giddy with laughter during the torch job, and he further ratted, saying as I ran out of the burning building I seemed to be relishing the act.

Then there was a time the FBI came to school to question me about the mysterious derailing of a locomotive passing through the neighborhood, knocking it off the tracks along with its hitched freight-and-tanker cars.

The accusations of my badness flew from left to right.

It began to sink in.

One day, I’m walking down the school hall-way, two nuns were planted in a doorway of a classroom, one of them, a recent addition to the school’s faculty. One nun stage whispers to the another while pointing me out, “That’s Sister Galberta’s nephew!”

The other one says, “Oh, yes, I’ve heard about him at, Mt. Caramel. I’ve heard he’s no good!”

“No good!” Who the fuck wants to hear shit like that being said about them? And that’s what they did back then, they stereotyped ya, painted you onto a corner of perception and never lifted so-much as a rosary bead to help.

And the truth is: I haven’t burned down any buildings, nor have I derailed any trains, at least I haven’t since reaching the age of reason. The absolute worse part about me is I break the law by smoking pot, getting speeding-tickets, and by being late on my taxes. So sue me with your “no goods,” ya fuckin’ penguins, ya!

Those were the same broads filling-up little-scared kids’ minds that the Russians ruthlessly rounded up and tossed Catholics into giant, human, meat grinders, meat grinders set up especially for malcontents down in dark, nasty, subway tunnels somewhere behind the Iron Curtain.

Constantly pounded into our heads, if brought to the test by the commies, it would be up to each and every one of us, while alone, to be prepared to sacrifice our lives for our faith or sell out to Communism.

And if that wasn’t enough, to twist the infant logic belonging to a-just-out-of-nap-time kid, a whipper-snapper, who still believed in Jimiddy Cricket. According to the lying women who dressed themselves so piously in spotless-black-wool and white-starched habits, we further had drummed into us, news of a mysterious letter from a village called Fatima, somewhere in Portugal. The supposed contents of this so-called letter from the Blessed Virgin Mother threatened and predicted that the whole world was gonna end in 1960!

With that in mind, the worst part of the end-of-the-world scenario was, if during that time if ya touched your dick for pleasure in so-many words, you and your dick would burn in hell forever! According to the nuns timetable this would occur during 1960, which happened to be the masturbating, high-water mark of my adolescence. All that us sinful jerkoffs had to look forward to was an eternity of agonizing excruciating pain.

Yeah, those nuns were the same broads who scared the Julius out of little-innocent kids and further roughed them up by pulling the tots around the classroom and slapped them across the face with yardsticks. So it was those hypercritical, holier-than-thou some bodies pegging somebody such as little-ole me as being no good.

OK! OK! I’ll back off somewhat! I’m sure Mother Theresa was a wonderful person. She was Macedonian you know . . .

*    *    *

I’m passing other lonely people, mostly worn-out chaps resting their shrunken girths on the boardwalk benches. I note that they’re no longer the robust-muscular studs from back in the Forties and Fifties. Some guys appear sad. Some sit there lost, bewildered as they wonder how they didn’t turn out to be the big deal they once envisioned they’d become.

Don’t feel sorry for them. You see, when the sun goes down, when it becomes chilly, they’ll sashay back inside their $300,000 condos. Saydee will be humming in the kitchen or yakking away on the phone, talking insensately, complaining how that sorry son-of-a-bitch won’t lift a finger to help.

While it’s being blabbered, he’ll just plant his bovine ass back in his comfy, easy chair, maybe eke out a fart, then like a milquetoast mealy mouth to the old lady, in a whiny sort of way a request for a Sanka from Saydee. Maybe after the early news, if he’s feeling frisky he’ll pull himself out of the Barca-lounger, then dig out and leaf through his leather-bound, coin collection, the one he’s possessed since boyhood, just before he nods off comfortably letting his woes wistfully fade.

There are other poor saps, yucks, hammered in place on the board walk bench, as if they’re connected to a ball-and-chain, firmly planted, right there, next to their field marshal of a wife of 45 years.

Some put on exaggerated sour pusses, as if they’ve been dragged off the sofa by their very ear, having to sit and listen to the old-battle axe blab-and-blab. They’ll sit as their dignity fades. It’s revolting how the wusses are forced to absorb the gaff without an iota of privacy. Nothing’s sacred, she has no qualms blabbing the mundane details about her gallbladder operation, or shamelessly exacerbating how hard it is to get the stains off Harry’s underwear. “Oh, Harry’s #11!”

Yet, they sit like obedient Shepherds, hearing the shameless reveal other aspects of their existence. “Oh, but for the grace of God!”

I think about butting in, forcing myself on them as a casual delightful rogue, only doing so for my own set of morbid kicks, to start vomiting my own woes on top of them. But! Why bother? They’d just think I was some mashuggana.

*    *    *

So, I’m walking along, half the time feeling sorry for myself, and the other I’m wondering about this chic named Mik.

Yeah, Mik, that’s her name, actually it’s, Mecala, but everybody calls her, Mik. She’s a strange one.

I haven’t told ya jack-shit about her. She’s the one ruining my life today. I can’t believe I’ve gotten into such a fix!

You see, last summer, just after I published my first-unsuccessful novel, I desired to cool it out, get away and I split from Hawaii. Did I say, I normally live in Hawaii? Did so until a few days ago, that’s when I threw caution to the wind and headed East.

Spare me.

Surely you’ve heard the term, throwing caution to the wind. Please permit me to stall the plot for a page or so, to share with you a short yarn about throwing caution to the wind.

*    *    *

All my life, that’s been my M.O.

The day of my induction, ya know, drafted into the service, I’m ordered by the Selective Service System to appear in center-city Philadelphia to surrender myself to Uncle Sam. At the time, I’m 19, Carrie would have been 9.

I’m sitting in the induction room with a major hangover from a resounding send off by the guys back on the corner. I’m feeling sort of shaky not knowing if I’m ready to be sworn in. I’m slouched next to two other kids, one’s white, one’s black.

I can’t remember their exact names but recall both their last names began with the letter “Bee.” I played sandlot football with these two guys, we didn’t bum around or anything, but I knew ’em good-enough as ball players.

Some sergeant says they need 18-guys to be inducted into the U.S. Marines. Most understood that meant being handed a rifle, a helmet and shipped directly to Vietnam. The sergeant says when he calls our names answer either: “Army,” “Marines,” or say, “No-preference.” He says if they don’t enlist eighteen Marines then they’ll work their way down the no-preference list so to fill the quota.

There’s about a hundred of us. The sergeant starts spouting off names in alphabetical order. My last name begins with the letter “C.” When the sergeant calls out my two acquaintances, whose last names begin with the letter “B”—proud-like—-they volley back: “MARINES!”

Now here’s where the ‘throw the caution to the wind’ stuff comes into play. You can imagine I have somewhat of a rapport with these two guys—we’ve been on the playing field together—banged some guys around. I’ve seen the John Wayne movies, and after hearing them volunteer so forthright with the duo flashing an eagerness to become leathernecks, why waves of country-saving patriotism start to quiver within me. When the sergeant calls out, “Christine?”

At first I couldn’t find my voice. For an instant the “Senior Cavalier” within me stirred the left side of the brain. Then, “Mr. Pragmatic,” leaned hard to the right. Staying in the present taking a logical view and with a sense of adventure while maintaining my wits that were strung far from becoming suicidal. I answered back, “No Preference!”

Lou Christine threw caution to the wind! Why commit? Since I was involuntarily thrust into a crossroads beyond my scope there was but one choice.

So, as I share with you this interlude, if you stumble upon such a junction in life, not sure about which yellow-brick road to follow, why not do what I’ve always done and permit destiny play its part? Fuck it! Just throw caution to the wind.

I was willing to take risks for my country. I’d go wherever, but I wasn’t volunteering.

After my two-year stint I sadly discovered one of the two, a kid who was affable as I remember; why the poor bugger hung himself while serving in Nam. And the other kid, the black one, a once a shifty-running back, whose all-world attitude placed him as promising as O.J., unfortunately both of his legs were blown off over there while on a Marine patrol.

I suppose that’s been part of my “throw caution to the wind” stuff.                              *    *    *

Let’s go back to this Mik and on with the story. ‘Cause “throwing caution to the wind” has a lot to do with my relationship with Mik.

For most of the past year, Mik and I have perpetuated a titillating long-distance relationship, primarily through telephone conversations. We’ve professed concurrently, what I thought were true sentiments. Mistakenly I thought we set footings for a lasting love.

Last summer, while back . . . yeah, I was back in the AC. (Atlantic City) area during “the summer of ’94.'”

“The summer of ’94,” that’s the inscription I especially instructed the jeweler to emboss on the keepsake gift to Mik, from a departing me, a silver bracelet which I had purchased.

Engraved atop Summer of ’94, LC, and in addition her favorite expression, “Hope Springs Eternal—-Summer of ’94, L.C.,” my initials.

The reason for me being in New Jersey in the first place was because of a rescue mission. I flew in to help an old buddy, an old buddy trying to weasel out of the retail-furniture business. The truth is he pleaded and then cajoled me to leave Hawaii and come get him out of a financial jam. I did so primarily because I’m loyal and perhaps I became flattered how he unequivocally trusted my business judgment.

I once owned the very-furniture store my buddy then operated, the one he planned to liquidate. He was once a faithful employee of mine as a near-aged protégée. We had been contemporaries showing ourselves as sharpies; fast-talking, hustling, young bucks.

Almost twenty years ago after we spent twelve hours a day scooting around a furniture showroom’s floor we’d go out and drink Scotch and then whore around through the night. That’s way before I moved to Hawaii to become a novelist. “Very strong,” was a perception describing me by other players in the retail-furniture business.

My assets: I’m able to merchandise, write-and-produce commercials, and purchase goods that turn over fast. To round out the process I sell like a huckster—I’m especially handy when it comes to pacifying irate customers or calming anxious bill collectors, and if there’s to be any schlepping, I’m right there, a real helping-hand Johnny is what I am . . . or maybe that’s the type of person I used to be.

Seriously, I came East with righteous intentions.

And I didn’t bite at their offer the first time. It was only after a marathon set of pleading telephone conversations. The hard sell came from both he and his-then, sweet-talking but otherwise bitch-of-a-wife. They wore me down.

If you would have been on a phone extension you would have been privy to hearing them both tag team my sense of buddyism imploring the urgency while praising my past expertise.

She pitched, “C’mon, get on the plane!” He shouts, “Fly first class, we’ll take care of the ticket!”

“Ya, can stay with us!” his bitch says, and then he followed up with, “We got an extra-Mercedes convertible wasting away in the garage . . . it will be like the old days . . . I’ll pay ya big bucks!”

My buddy is long married to this awful individual, despite her once possessing a terrific ass and thick-sultry lips. In the old days she hooked my buddy with ‘a-come-fuck-me-if-your-worthy’ personification. My then view such carnal offerings were going to cost somebody big-time. She wasn’t about to give it up without a price to pay.

He’s always been a big C-man, if ya know what I mean? Long before her beauty began to fade, and when in the puppy stages of her neurotic backbiting and cold-hearted viciousness, my buddy grew tired of her crap and began sniffing asses in other pastures. Can’t blame the guy, she remains the undisputed, dog-queen of ragging bitches.

More than a bitch, she’s a fucking terror, way short of any redeeming factors, plus, she’s the worst fucking housekeeper in the United States of America and its territories. Still is!

Too bad she’s breathing air.

Anyway, because he was hip to her nastiness he was able to laugh behind her back and mostly ignore her but at the same time my buddy suffers from an acute case of being pussy whipped, and somehow she’s convinced him he’d be totally inept without her.

Yikes! . . Men!

You can begin to get the picture.

So, what’s a guy to do? He’s got side action. Ya know, somebody to go schtup now and then, somebody without any back talk.

For the past 17-years, each instance I’ve venture to the East Coast from Hawaii, my buddy’s more-than-eager to showoff his latest side action. Shows them off the way guys flaunt new Mercedes.

You guessed it. Last year’s model, this chic named, Mik. Said he banged her on-and-off for almost twenty years. I found it remarkable he never mentioned her before.

Over the years my buddy’s idea of a great time . . . He and me to have mixed drinks at some Jersey, wood paneled, watering hole, doing so with his latest diva. Then if, she—the latest side action—didn’t bring along an accompanying Sheba, or some-other husband-cheating floozy, who’s looking-for-a-sordid-time, and it be just the three of us . . . we’d work ourselves through a binge of drinking and wind up somewhere seedy. Our purpose was so my buddy and me, in tandem, could goon-up his latest. We’d find ourselves whooping it up as a steamy bowl of human spaghetti.

It wasn’t always a slam-dunk. We didn’t just jump into it. There usually was plenty of wooing. My buddy sweet-talked his babes into his fantasies and wishfully into a doubly promiscuous mood. The gals usually needed to be placed into a comfort zone.

“Ya gotta understand, sweetheart, why, Lou, and me . . . I mean we’re like brothers, you may not realize it but if you’re fucking, me, you’re fucking him anyway! He feels what I feel and visa versa. We’re the same thing, that’s how close we are!”

He’d go on saying all kinds of ridiculous shit like that until he wore the poor girls down. And usually his dogged-determined and persuasiveness pulled it off. My buddy’s a topnotch salesman.

With that out of the way the underbelly of life went on.

I hope this is another instance Carrie never finds out about. She might think less of me.

Frankly, I’ve found the past embarrassing. I mean well right now I’m miserable and somewhat lonely, and if my old buddy would have brought over one of his concubines last night, I would have been willing to relieve my sexual frustrations rather than doing so in the palms of my busted-out hands. I have to say, for pride’s sake, I’ve been able to drum up my own action. I never expected anybody to pack my lunch.

The facts: Down-deep I’m like the rest, I’m sneaky. My seductive methods are filled with custom-lipped, subterfuge bullshit. I make monumental efforts to ease under a woman’s skin, dazzle and drench her with a thunderstorm’s worth of sincerity, while the blood builds in my groin.

It hasn’t always worked out despite noble attempts.

On occasion lightning strikes home, but with it, I’m risking being referred to as manipulative and conniving. That’s not true. It isn’t until shortly after I’m tired and bored of spending time and money and expending energy, does the figurative-honeymoon end. So goes the story of life.

There are a number of women who have enjoyed my sincere company and not for the wrong reasons. I suppose it’s those who find me reasonably attractive. I can’t tell you why. I’m not an unsightly ogre (well I hope not,) but I’m never perceived as a pretty boy either.

I’ve had ladies come-on to me but it’s usually not that overt and more so in a subtle manner. In the past few years, some have stated I’ve reminded them of their fathers and brothers, men, who lost their hair early in life. Those losses didn’t diminish their sex appeal, especially in the eyes of their sisters and daughters.

That’s good. The aspect about aging and family relationships has given us guys with receding hairlines a decent chance in a persnickety world, in love with guys, who have hair like Warren Beatty.

So, back to this wretched, ascorbic-tongue bitch . . . my buddy’s wife.

After an abbreviated welcome she viciously pulled the welcome mat from beneath me; she began to bust my balls, did so immediately and relentlessly. It was difficult for me to fathom, after all, I was recruited with much enthusiasm, cast into a role, same as a fireman, to help put out the fire.

*    *    *

I rolled up my sleeves and went directly to work, spending 11-to-12 hours at the store, using all my savvy and skill in the furniture business to keep them afloat. She began to take issue with my tactics. For instance: If I settled a $10,000, long-past, due bill, which was about to link up with a kick-your-ass, court order and if I settled the overdue debt with the creditors, with no strings attached and did so amicably, let’s say, for a mere 4 grand, she’d voice her disappointment, would turn indignant and acted outraged.

In her view, I fucked up! I shouldn’t have given ’em no more than 3-K. She, the vindictive one, never once matched up with a sane idea, not even an itty-bitty one. She preferred not to settle issues. Instead the dim wit with the birdbrain and for the sake of a feathered fight, relished the mire, pecked and pestered with those that sued her for their just due, rather than just pay. That $10,000 bill would escalated and eventually would cost them $18,000, with penalties and interest, not including the legal fees. Both my buddy and her conveniently discounted and were quick to forget that it was normally they, who made the initial deal with the creditors. Plus they were always on the line because in most instances the numb-numbs personally guaranteed the contracts.

In other instances, if I happened to soothe irate customers and went ahead and talked them out of canceling an order; goods ridiculously delayed, goods, supposedly that had been on order for six or seven weeks, maybe for three months and nowhere to be seen. More than likely from the get-go she knew all along that that particular factory no longer shipped them, because of a some past rift, and that the goods ain’t coming ’cause more-than-likely she fucked up, or because of their self-inflicted lame credit. Within the industry, shrewd manufactures avoid at all costs getting stiffed. They couldn’t be trusted. Mainstream suppliers no longer shipped them goods on their word. But back to the customers wanting their money back. Naturally, I’d show them some concern, hear them out, suggest I might have something they might be interested in and I might be able to make it all up to them in the form of moneys. I’d say, I have special goods with a special quality, even more expensive than what they ordered at first, and because they had been so patient, I’d give it to them for the same price and I promised next-day, free delivery, even that day if they hurried back home.

I saved the deal. Saving the deal in furniture selling is revered. It’s an art in itself. The pacified, and by then happier customers, began to stroll out all smiles, scheduled for immediate delivery.

When I turned and met her bee-bee eyes she’d never acknowledge my smile. She’d just turned, biting her bottom lip and went for my buddy’s ear. She’d start her grumble. I’d watch her lips flap, as I blanked my mind from worry and continued to paste on my own phony smile and while shaking the hands with the departing customers.

I had to choice but to trust my buddy, while he was taking in the rhetoric from her and was sure he was saying “bullshit, bullshit, bullshit,” over and over.

Normally, I’d be shoring up and involving myself in events that took place way before my time. My buddy and I didn’t come from the old school. We were slick enough not to fight, rather we were hip to switch the tired-of-waiting, demanding-their-deposit-back customers, off of a dead order. Misers in our view remained miserable and lost misers because of bullshit principles. Sharks just win. I didn’t give away anything. Fact was, if those customers would have just wandered in off the street and been decent bargainers, they could have purchased the goods for $300 less, that’s if we were having a slow day. But like the shrewd businessman that I am, I moved them to other goods, goods we had inventoried, goods in stock for-immediate delivery, goods we’d be able to collect a fat and much-needed C.O.D. on. . . . “No!” she’d say. According to her, I should have stuck to my guns, ‘screw ’em, let ’em swing in the wind, let ’em wait . . . let ’em eat shit and die! We should have just kept hold of their deposit and had given them nothing!’ She lied through her teeth and my buddy and I knew it when she said, how she had a customer who was coming back Saturday for the goods that I pacified the others with and she’d have the nerve to say she could have gotten twice as much as I. . .’

Oh, she’s so lovely!

It’s interesting, how a not-so-bad-looking of a babe can transform into a hideous Medusa head. It was repulsive the way she contorted her pig face and twisted her fool’s lips. The perpetual queen of negativity thought she could sell me, of all people. Her nasty temperament was her baggage to bear. Such grotesqueness surfaced often.

“Yeah, sure,” I thought . . . If my enterprising memory served me correct, her way of thinking infuriated customers, and it had the tendency to bring on threatening letters from some sue-crazy law office—or perhaps worse—to precipitate a negative article in the local press or bring on irritating calls from the Better Business Bureau, or such arrogance could spring an intimidating mandate from the State Attorney General’s Department of Consumer Affairs!

Her idiotic sense of worthless value usually chose the hard line and she did so up-to and on-the-verge of the big sale. The situation then was similar to my own now—we were on the launching pad with no-turning-back for my buddy . . . no-room-for-fucking-up!

The mission: I was to orchestrate along with my buddy, a sensational something-like-never-before sale . . . the colossal of colossal, a promotion that would go down in the annals of retail history as something that was supposedly going to save (soon-to-be-gypped-customers) thousands-of-dollars on low-priced, quality furniture during a 3-month-long Going Out Of Business Sale!

My initial advice, for which I was being paid: To remain low key. There was absolutely no need to shed light upon the upcoming project. We couldn’t afford to expose ourselves under the scrutiny of watchdog agencies snooping around, actions that might provoke court-ordered subpoenas; along with thorough examinations of our existing invoices or the worse-case scenario, a state-supervised audit pertaining to the business’s inventory list.

We’re cheating too, playing it like we’d be offering spectacular savings—our guise—the strong possibility of trumped up and embellished savings. Sixty-percent off! Seventy-percent off! . . Eighty-percent off! . . We’d be lying, lying our consumer-cheating asses off.

I’m writing radio and TV ads, mostly lies about my poor buddy’s business dilemmas; how he’s a good family man and has to close his store’s doors, being forced by the evils of capitalism to go out of business after 17-fruitful years. We were using the sympathy card, boohooing through the media towards John Q, Public. We were raving about unheard of incredible values. We’re blatantly indicating how our tragic loss is their fortunate gain! . . “For pennies on the dollar! Come on in folks! No reasonable offer will be refused!”

We weren’t giving away jack shit!

It would be us who’d be doing the taking. You see, my buddy and me ordered train loads of extra stuff: Living rooms, bed rooms, dinettes and bedding. Our intentions—-to mark it the fuck up three-or-four times and then blow it out, exaggerating the original price. We’re doing it to them with no conscience in the throes of pulling off a complete borax operation.

Still, all during the tedious preparation, the bitch was stirring up trouble. My buddy confided in me, said we just couldn’t completely ignore her, says he’s with me, says we should pacify the old lady.

He insists: “Patronize the whacko; promise we’ll follow her advice. But in lieu of that, we’ll do exactly as we wish . . . offer her but a handful of little victories! . . .”

Imploring, my buddy stated we had to liquidate the business. He had to come out with a cool two-and-a-half million in cash . . . then he’d sell the house . . . bomb out the Floridian condo . . . and get as far away as possible from the screaming witch.

News leaks, regardless of how it’s camouflaged. Certain people have to be let in. With the exposure the owed wolves began to bark for money. The pressure got to her. She became petrified about risking the status quo, perhaps losing forever their opulent lifestyle. If things didn’t work out? God forbid, she might have to go get a job!

She began drumming ominous second thoughts about the promotion. “How do you know people are gonna come? Who says ya need full-page ads? Why can’t they be half page?”

And I did my best to tell, shit-for-brains that we’re boldly advertising, the-biggest, most-colossal: Something-Like-Ya-Never-Seen-Before-Gigantic-Sale!

And there she was saying all that was needed was, “a measly half page!”

And then the whore accused me! Said I was poisoning my buddy’s mind! Said, I was turning him against her. Said I was out of control allocating too much money for advertising, buying inventory, making deals . . . she’s splitting hairs . . .

Bullshit! My buddy’s swore to me for years, he hated her fucking guts anyhow. Then I figured it’s between man and wife and it’s not like an automatic—like he’s gonna be totally on the up-and-up with me. But, you gotta know my buddy. He has some pretty good points. He’s a benign sort of guy; buddyism is high on his list, but on the most part he possessed no fortitude or buddy-buddy gumption to stand up to her.

Surprisingly, he mustered up the buddy-buddy gumption, and did so with valor, fire tested and rose to the occasion, on my account. “The Sale was going on no matter what,” he insisted, “And fucking, Lou, is a major part of the sale!”

Valiantly, he crossed the drawn line in the sand and stood staunchly on my side. And I have to tell you, with all the turmoil and the way that bitch glared at me, sleeping inside the house was a scary thought.

She’s there, alive and in-color with the power to fuck things up and even though we laughed and kidded behind her back while we puffed on fat joints in the house’s den while she sulked in the bedroom; we laughed our asses off as we considered, bringing O.J. in on the deal to finish the job, and maybe finish her off just before he was carted off to jail.

But other than that particular defining moment, when he stood up to her on my account on-the-surface and during the day-to-day, the disgusting whore-of-a-wife owned him.

Don’t be so fast to pity the poor guy, he acquired his pound of flesh in his own sort of way.



Gloria and Carl Fishman, along with her sister Violet and her husband, Phil, and their three kids Tammy, Sammy and Pammy piled into the big-station wagon and drove across the toll bridge crossing the Delaware River up in Philadelphia, heading for a Memorial-Day-weekend getaway—-a one-dayer–down at Ocean City, New Jersey.

The dirty, ten-year-old, banged-up, station wagon rumbled and billowed smoke, substantiating the need for a new exhaust system. The seven were crammed in the war wagon.

Along and packed: Folded beach chairs, blankets, a cooler filled with sandwiches, chips, candy, beer and soda—-stuff less expensive than seashore prices purchased beforehand back in Philly.

Gloria insisted they go to Ocean City, one island down the coast from Absecon Island, the name of the island Atlantic City’s planted on.

Ocean City’s a peach-of-a-resort, more family oriented, a wholesome atmosphere with no liquor stores, bars or noisy clubs. Also, the seacoast town boasted no casinos. Gloria very much wanted to keep Carl out of Atlantic City’s casinos.

Her innards knew better. The beat-up wagon by-passed the sign marking the way to Ocean City and navigated directly toward Atlantic City, under a premise flippantly delivered by Carl. “It ‘ill-be too-friggin’ crowded over on OC . . . ya might hafta wait in line for the friggin’ draw bridge to open. And the friggin’ bridge might get stuck in the up-position. Besides, ya gotta pay for friggin’ beach badges or whatever.”

Gloria, hip and frightfully aware, no matter how he promised, sensed he’d eventually get the itch and say they would be heading for Atlantic City.

“We’re going to AC. Fuck it. I wasn’t born to hang out in, OC. Then ya never know. My destiny might be waiting for me. Just a mad hour, that’s all I need . . . A mad hour on the dice table.”

“No you don’t, mister. You’re going back on your word Fishman, but this Newt got the loot in her boot. . . You can forget about your mad hour.”

Gloria’s ears had absorbed the lame fantasy for years—-only thing—-that mad hour Carl continuously dreamt about, never materialized. Oh, teasing moments rose now and then, but the so-called mad hour, the utopia, about fleecing “the man” only sprouted once in a blue moon but quickly wilted.

There was a night she begrudgingly accompanied Carl to the casinos, to appease him, and as he proudly stated, like some dice throwing maven, when giving him a chance to ‘show her the game.’ He fixed her as a dummy, him acting more like a big deal, him obviously presumptuous that she actually needed to be shown how to throw dice.

Bringing back the moment while sandwiched in the front seat between Phil and Carl she reflected the stupidity of the man “Christ!,” she thought . . . she played Monopoly and Parcheesi; she didn’t need to be taught how to roll dice. Still, that night, she went along for the ride and even for a fleeting moment Gloria would be able to attest how Carl did ‘get hot,’ and he did roll winning numbers. Their success and enthusiasm soon became squelched. Despite the run of good luck he couldn’t afford to go for the gusto by wagering large sums of his workingman’s low wages by betting heave on those numbers and relying on the dice. Gloria wasn’t sold on Carl’s invincibility. She wouldn’t hand over the mother load. So Carl won nothing but peanuts.

For years he grumbled. If only Gloria hadn’t been with him, and that she put the kabash on the once-in-a-lifetime hot streak.

Truth be it, Carl rolled those winning combinations primarily for the benefit of the other fellow gamblers milling around the table.

Carl told the story over and over, spoke too often about how the gamblers cheered each time he made a number. He’d blamed Gloria in front of others in their kitchen having her substantiate the story, gushing how the other gamblers referred to him as “The Man!”

Carl rolled winning numbers for a whirlwind-fifteen minutes. As the years passed he spoke as if it were the high-water mark of their marriage and maybe his mouthing of a life!

*    *    *

The four sticky adults and three-loud kids with streaks of perspiration running down their faces were just part of the long ribbon of traffic heading to the coast that Memorial Day Weekend. When backed-up traffic brought them to a stand still they sweated more so. The wagon’s air-conditioner was kaput. While moving at a snails pace the engine overheated as they circled the beach block four times searching for a parking spot.

Gloria could take no more, “Carl! Why don’t you just park in the parking lot?”

“Bullshit! The bastards get you coming and going . . . There’s one!”

“Carl! There’s a no-parking sign! . . Says they’ll tow you away.”

“That’s bullshit! . . They don’t tow stuff on Memorial Day.”

Violet butted in, “Oh, no! At the shore they do!”

“Bullshit! I’m parking!”

The wagon backed-in, its transmission squealing after the torturous ride. The wagon’s back bumper whacked a peacefully parked vehicle knocking the smile off the grill’s face of a parked Cherokee.

A door-opening riot broke out. They escaped the hot box and unloaded a safari’s worth of supplies like jungle porters about to embark into the thick.

The non-magnificent seven waddled down the street. All were big people. Carl and Phil boasted good-size stomachs. Both were truck drivers, working for a freight-forwarding service out of Philadelphia.

The women were lard asses too. Big bovine woman with two-ton asses and cow tits. Saving grace they did have big hair coiffured to the max, stiffened with hair spray. Their skin and clothes were dampened with perspiration yet those dos were as dry and stiff as parched shrubbery.

The kids were no better off. Their stocky builds pointed blame, how parents permitted little piggies to stuff themselves with too much sugar, too much sodium, starch, grease and other processed foods.

The Surgeon-General may have felt compelled to place his hand over his heart if he were to inspect the contents of their cooler!

Yeah, they were a fat bunch, waddling their way, doing so loudly without regard for whomever’s ears they might sting, and awfully so, marching and yapping at the top of their lungs, moving down the seaside resort’s street and up the wooden planks leading across the boardwalk. They continued to scream at each other as they hit the beach. Oblivious to the world they kicked sand on people’s blankets.

Exposing fish-belly white, pimply flab, the women flashed cottage cheese thighs matched by the men’s built-up flab. They set camp just a tad south of Atlantic City.

And yeah they were part of the group first spotted in the earlier Chapter by the sorry assed son-of-a-bitch wandering down the boardwalk.

Remember the Asshole? . . The guy who wants to end it, who’s a sap, a jerk, and who’s all-of-a-sudden got the hots for Carrie Fisher?

Carl and Phil lit smokes before spreading out the shabby, lint-balled blankets, worn-out and faded bedding they ripped off the not-to-be-made, sloppy fart sacks back at Carl’s house.

The kids ran their little-fat asses down to the ocean’s edge, still screaming out some random, no-sense gibberish, probably ecstatic about being off the block. Gloria and Violet found themselves battening down the blankets after eyeballing, and then frowning about the men’s so-so job. They inspected the cooler, taking inventory and then handed the two stiffs their god-damned beers.

They unfolded chairs while readying themselves to bask. They applied gobs of lotion. The men refused. Finally sitting, the two women, independent of each other, opened different tabloids. The men continued to stand, so to check out the passing bikini-clad teenagers.

Gloria caught Carl, him gah-gah eyed over passing girls. She said evenly but sarcastically while not looking away from the tabloid, “Pay attention to the kids will, ya!”

Carl unaffected, “They’re going no where.”

“Ya never know, a shark or something could come up!”

With vigor, “Sharks! What the fuck’s with you and the sharks all of a sudden?”

Phil came to life hearing his brother-in-law taking charge. He smiled for his buddy.

Violet, Phil’s wife, remained oblivious while swatting away flies as she continued to engross herself in a tabloid story about O.J.

Gloria remained serious about the shark-bit.

“Oh, you don’t think so, Mr. Wisenheimer? You’re the one who buys them god-damned lottery tickets each week and Lord knows, you swear you’re gonna hit the big one . . .”

“What the fucks that hafta do with you being paranoid about sharks?”

“Now, Carl, what do you think the odds are of hitting the jack pot in the lottery? More than a million to one I’d bet, and you, Asshole, you believe it’s going to happen to you.”

“So, Mrs. Wisenheimer! What’s the point?”

Violet looked up from her paper in befuddled Maureen Stapleton fashion, “They say the great whites can attack at anytime, anywhere, any where’s there’s ocean as little as 2-feet of water!”

Gloria maintained her focus, “The point is shit-for-brains, that the odds of hitting the lottery are about the same as getting eaten by a shark. So, if you believe you’re going to hit the lottery, ya should think there’s a likelihood that your kids could be getting gobbled up by some blood thirsty shark at this very moment while you’re gawking at children’s tookasses.”

“See!” He turned and said, to Phil. “She’s a smart bitch.”

“Nah, Fishman, I’m not smart. I just believe in safety in numbers, ya know, like staying with the pack, like, go-with-the-flow, don’t swim upstream, don’t stand under a tree during a thunder storm or yank on Superman’s cape. I pay attention. I’m not a loose cannon like you, Fishman.”

“She calls me, Fishman, when she wants to make it official,” complained Carl “C’mon, Phil, lets take a walk. Let the sharks eat the kids then maybe I’ll hit the lottery.”

Both men took off in the direction of A.C.

They were planted on Ventnor’s beach, the next town down. Gloria looked up. “Huh, huh, non-no-no, just put one oar in the water, Fishman . . . that-a-way!” She pointed south.

“Ok! Ok! . . . We’ll head towards, Margate.”

“I don’t want ya sneaking around either.”

“Take a fuckin’ pill!”

The bare-chested duo headed in the opposite direction, rather than taking the route toward the casinos. Carl began talking with his hands. “These fuckin’ broads! Ya marry them, give them a life, and they bitch, bitch, bitch.”

Phil said, “I guess I’m pretty lucky. Violet on the most part keeps her mouth shut.”

“That’s because you ain’t got no kids. Once the kids come along it’s all over. Once they start their act with their pissy diapers ya ain’t got a chance, and afterwards, after they’re addicted from sugarcoated cereal, then your poor-friggin’ ears hasta hear all their crappy demands . . . ”

Phil, “Get out!”

“Oh, yeah! Have some, you’ll see. Why unless the bitch is Betty Crocker or Mother Theresa, or somebody like that, why it’s too much for them. And ya know what happens? The bitches turn to witches. Ya know something? I ain’t got a decent blow job in 10-fuckin’ years. She used to blow me all the way up Roosevelt Boulevard, all the way to the drive-in theater when we wuz kids. That was a million years ago, back when ya couldn’t even watch the movie . . . who the fuck wanted to anyway? Back then? Fuckin’ Tarzan would of had a tough time keeping up with me. And that hot bitch, that friggin’ Jane woulda had a hard time keeping up with Gloria’s appetite for Cheeta’s banana.

“Christ! . . She was a real Amazon woman when it came to sex! But later on “it” became different . . . “It” became ‘the kids, the kids! . . ‘

“It’s like she forgot all about it, forgot about putting that sucker in her mouth, totally forgetting what-used to be part of the total process. All she can say now is, ‘Ah c’mon, Carl, stop it!’”

While listening Phil’s mouth dropped to a Guberish look, remaining halfway open, while at the same time thinking that Carl might be finished, “Violet’s not that way,” voiced Phil.

“Oh, no?”

“No. She’s always willing to give me a-little knob-job. Did so just last night. She even likes to take the charge!”

“Takes the charge!. . . Violet! . . . Your prissy, Violet?”

Phil maintained a goofy look and nodded his head emphatically as if saying, “I get something you don’t, buddy boy!”

Carl’s face went from bewilderment to a wide grin, “Well then, I’ll be! Let me ask you a little something? What’s she doing tonight?”

“You, motherfucker, you!”

Phil flailed his arms, then lassoed the fatter man around the neck and placed him in a playful headlock.

“C’mon! Knock it off ya, cock sucker, I’ll hafta knock ya out!”

They settled down.

“Hey, Phil! Imagine, imagine if we ever really hit the big one!” Carl peered to the heavens with his one hand tightened into a clenched fist. “Imagine if we ever really waffled that lottery or hit the friggin’ Megabucks or the million-dollar slots, or maybe even better yet, if we had just one-mad hour on the craps table!”

Phil’s ears perked up. “Yeah! I could see us celebrating, partying like two motherfuckers!”

“Yeah, I know just what I’d do if I nailed the friggin’ progressive slot inside one of them Trump joints, maybe the Taj Mahal. . . First, I’d wanna be alone when I hit. Like maybe on a weeknight, real late, when there’s not many people on the floor.

“After the numbers clicked, I’d stand in front of that slot and I’d fuckin’ yeah, yeah, yeah, yell my ass off, praise God and fuckin’ scream, and stamp my feet!

“Then, when all them slot guys come running up, I’d tell that chump that I want a presidential suite, a case of Mums, an eight-ball of blow, and further, have them send up four bitches.

“I’d send a limo up to Philly for you pal, and have some babe sucking you off all the way to the party. . . Yeah, that be something! . .

“And then, when dick-head Donnie showed up the next day, choppered in from way up in NYC, so that punk Trump could have his smug picture taken with a big winner, such as me, ya know, what I’d do? While we were there shaking hands for the cameras and all, with the big check made out to me covering the fronts of our chests? I’d say under my breath, for only Donnie to hear. ‘You’re a piece of fucking shit, ya’ve robbed and hurt a lot of little people, and I bet Marla gives lousy head ya rat bastard, ya!’ And I’d be saying it to him all while smiling for the cameras the whole time . . .Yeah, that’s what I’d do!”

Phil, “Geez, this is two revelations now . . . you’ve got it worked out haven’t ya?”

“Fuckin’-A-right, I have!”

Both men began to tire. They wheezed and halted their trek, reversed their march, heading back to the wives and kids.

By the time they returned to their beachhead, the kids were throwing beach balls and digging sand around the blankets. Both Gloria and Violet were still reading the gossip columns.

The men returned, perhaps tired of each other, or perhaps looking for attention.

“How ’bout a sandwich, Phil? . . Get Phil a sandwich, Glor.”

“Get it yourself! Whatta think I am?”

“You’re no Liz Taylor! That’s for sure.”

Violet looked up, “I’ve just read where Liz has dropped as much as 20 pounds!”

“Oh! Why she looks terrific!” piped-in Gloria, pressing her lips so to emphasize the fact, while nodding her cow head up and down. “Why I also just saw her again on that AIDs thing; she looks fabulous.”

Violet interjected, “Remember, back when it was all the news, how she stole Eddie Fisher away from Debbie Reynolds?”

“How could we forget,” affirmed Gloria.

“God! It seemed as if it went on for yeearrs, remember the stories? That’s all the tabloids had pasted on their front pages . . . nothing but stories about, Poor Debbie.”

Gloria added, “Ya know, she has a daughter, Carrie? She terrific too, played in them Star Wars movies.”

Violet, enthused, “Oh, yes! Of course! I know all about her! I love her, loved her in Hannah and Her Sisters, and she a great little writer.”

“Howda like that? I never knew that,” mouthed Carl. “She’s Debbie’s kid, huh? And ya say Eddie Fisher’s the old man? How ’bout that? But how come she winds up with Liz’s tits?”

Carl forced himself into a fit of laughter. Carl reiterated, “Now that’s a set of tits. Christ, I can’t even remember—can you Phil—does Debbie Reynolds have tits or not?”

“Uuh, Carl, you’re such a zero! Know that? Anyhow, it’s all image—stuff, set up by the Hollywood crowd, the publicity people and all.”

Gloria became didactic. “Don’t you realize, Carl, Debbie was supposed to be the girl next store type, and Liz was set up by the big wigs to be a sex kitten? If Debbie’s theatrical agent, or some other mogul wanted you to remember her tits, they woulda done so—-Debbie would have been all tits! And come to think of it, whatta you know about tits,anyway? You’re never around mine.”

Not missing a beat. “That’s because they sag down to the friggin’ floor.”

Right back, “Oh, you’re Mr. Olympus! How ‘about—”

Carl cut her off. “I’ll tell ya, I don’t know how Liz ever went for a creep like that Fisher. I always thought he was a fucking weasel and a creep.”

*    *    *

Carl cut Gloria off so to take a verbal swing at Eddie Fisher. His cut off, an esoteric signal between he and Gloria, one indicating he already capitulated in lieu of getting into a verbal slugfest.

Once Gloria shifted herself on a get-even roll, it always became too dicey for the guy. She was too formidable for ole Carl, and she had the capability to dish out a myriad of ascorbic-tongued comebacks that would out flank him and she’d surely hit Carl below the belt.

So, Carl switched channels and took a shot at turning-the-tide towards Eddie Fisher.

“He’s very talented,” said Violet. “At least I’ve always liked him, he has a nice singing voice, and I don’t think he’s a creep, I think he’s cute.”

“Yeah, sure ya would, look what the hell you’re married to . . .”

Phil punched Carl in the arm, “You, cock sucker! You’re no fucking prince! Besides, my Violet has good taste . . . if you know what I mean, Mister Never-get-a-blow-job.”

That fast! Gloria brought down her paper! Her big head bent itself backwards, over the back of her beach chair. Her moo eyes didn’t bother to peer into Carl’s, not giving him the respect. She raised her neck and stared blankly towards the sky. “Hey, watch it! What the fuck you two been talking about?”

“Forget about it!”

With face still turned upwards towards the sky, “I’m gonna crown you, mister. You better watch it, buster!” She dropped her head. Then almost kiddingly, her voice changed. It became deeper, “Hey, Fishman, you remember what happened to poor Eddie, once Richard Burton came around?”

“Ah, don’t scare me! That prick’s dead. So, don’t expect some Romeo of an actor to come down the boards and whisk your Dairy Queen ass away. And if one did once he got a load of you and them brats you been raising, he’d flip a switch and escape off to Hawaii or someplace like that.”

“Oh, yeah, you don’t have it so bad. Bet Liz don’t have to pick up her truck-driver-husband’s rolled-up, stinky socks, and hafta constantly flip the toilet seat down. . . Oh, Liz and I are soo fortunate, both married to friggin’ truck drivers.”

Carl looked to Phil, “See pal. There’s hope for us yet. If a truck driver can marry a starlet—the likes of Liz Taylor—why forget the number.

“Besides, she’s got some miles on her, but still, she’s a looker, some high-maintenance babe I’d bet, a babe I’d probably still throw a stiff fuck into. . .”

Gloria, “Sure, sure, sure . . .”

Carl scoffed, “Phil, let her, sure, sure, sure . . . That only proves, buddy boy we could still be in the running for a better life. On second thought, I bet she turns out to be just like the rest . . . a real pain in the friggin’ ass.”

Violet could stand to hear no more! “Phil’s just fine! You tell him, honey.”

“Yeah, Carl, what you trying to do? stirring up all this shit. Ya get me in enough trouble, besides, do ya really think that Larry whatever his last name—-do you really believe he wrestles with a rig’s wheel around L.A., pushing a frigid’ hand truck, straining his friggin’ back, lifting shit, dragging his ass in-and-out the putrid back end of a straight-job in summer and winter like you and me? No way, man!. . .

“I bet he’s more like some of them smooth-talking union guys. Never lifted anything heavier than a fork full of spaghetti.”

Gloria laughed, “Yeah, I can almost see it . . . Liz in the kitchen, and there’s Larry, just like you Carl, a filthy, sweaty pig, plopping his ass on the Liz’s white-silk, damask sofa, and undoing his cruddy work boots, unleashing an aroma that could make Liz’s fancy name-brand perfume turn to the smell of shit.

“And talking about smelling shit, I bet Larry don’t stop in them same greasy spoons the way you do, and I bet the remnants of that slop dished-out, by them dives, don’t go and ferment in Larry’s teamster’s gut, as it does in your friggin’ rotting system, nor does she have to get a nose full of that after all that craps comes plopping out from that sewer insides of yours! The stink of it could almost peel the paper off the walls in the bathroom.”

Turning to Violet, “You should smell it. It’s absolutely terrible. Betcha Liz don’t have the sickening taste of somebody else’s asshole down her friggin’ throat!”

Carl undaunted, “Yeah, sure, Larry’s shit don’t stink, and you my precious, the friggin’ Queen of Shake and Bake, you should get a load of your own ass!”

Violet blanked out the grossness, closed her ears within her own less-nauseous desires and curiosity. Her thoughts shifted onto other aspects and attempted to change the tone of the conversation, “Oh, can you imagine? It must be exciting, Liz could talk all about the studio and how it is working with super stars such as Robert De Niro and Mel Gibson and Nick Nolte—-think of it—-after Liz tells of all the juicy gossip, Larry tells her about his day, the same way Phil tells me about his, about the idiots, the terrible traffic and the everyday bastards.”

“Thank you, honey.” said Phil, happy to see his Violet spinning a different slant on the talk.

Carl maintained a perplexed look, “I don’t remember Liz ever working with any of them stars, Violet.”

“Oh, Carl, you’re such a lug head; you know what I mean!”

“Phil! Tell her to get it right will ya!”

*    *    *

Despite the bickering, the four seemed content enough, taking in the sun, sitting around. Phil and Carl played cards as the women read and talked. The kids were cool.

Violet broke her conversation from Gloria and asked in a curious manner, “So what’s your opinion, Carl, did O.J. do it or not?”

“Fuckin’ right he did it! You know them jigs, ‘ya can take the jigs out of the ghetto but can’t take the ghetto out of the jigs.'”

“Goodness!” cooed Violet. “This could send the black man back 30 years,”

“Fuck ’em, they got their affirmative action, civil rights, welfare, look what they’re paid for making goofy rap videos and for playing sports. Only in America like Don King says.”

“I mean how could he do such a horrific thing?”

“That’s ’cause you don’t think like one of them moonyuns. You know how they think: ‘the motherfucking white bitch is living in my white-motherfucking house! Driving my-white-motherfucking car, that I’m-motherfucking paying for! And now the bitch is sucking some white-motherfucker’s cock! In my car! In my-motherfucking house!’ That’s all they see, Violet.”

“That’s what all men see,” punctuated Gloria. “They still haven’t placed him at the scene?”

Some of the picnic food littered the area; gulls swept down, hi-jacking pieces of this or that.

“Look at the bastards!” shouted Carl.

“They’ve been waiting for Summer, all Winter.”

The birds soared. Carl gazed up to follow their flight. Phil peered also and placed his hand over his eyes to shade them from the sun.

They were both whacked at the same time!

Surer than getting splattered with a full bombardment of seagull ka-ka-—the bird dung landed simultaneously on both men’s faces, making them a sorry ass pair of shit faces, who just received instant facials, They stood frozen, similar to statues in a park.

Violet tossed the tabloid to the wind and Gloria slapped her two-ton thighs as they bent themselves over with jelly-belly laughter! The kids, with sudden glee, became open mouthed, flashing gummy spaces that evicted baby teeth.

Gloria subsided her outburst, “Well, there you go, Mr. Full-of-Shit Fishman!”

Phil and Carl were shrouded with a clinging, white goop. Once they shook off the shock, they too had no choice but to fall to the amusement.

In the midst of the gut-splitting fanfare, with Phil pointing at Carl and with the kids jumping up and down, Carl’s thoughts switched and turned to another page. He became big bodied.

He blasted off with whirling hands. “DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS? I mean it’s Lady Luck tapping us on the shoulder. It’s a divine sign!”

Backing up his bud! “Yeah!” screamed a gah-gah Phil!

“It’s Lady Luck shitting on our faces!. . Why getting shit on is a sure-sign of good luck!”

Carl’s eyes bulged as that of delirious nomad at first discovering a lost treasure! “And when it’s a sea gull—-down at the shore, in A.C. Christ, buddy, that means only one thing!”

“Now wait a minute here!” warned Gloria.

Carl wasn’t missing an opportunity, “C’mon, Gloria! Ya can’t ignore crystal-clear signs! The good luck only last for a few hours! . . . Tell her, Phil! You’ve talked about the odds with the sharks and the lottery haven’t, ya? This is it! We’re here! Christ, Gloria, moments away lay thousands of dollars!”

Turning towards her sister-in-law, “You ever hear about anything like that, Violet?” asked Gloria.

“Well, that’s what Phil’s mom and dad always used to say, and actually, I’ve heard it quite a bit over the years.”

Gaining an ally, “See, then, even, Violet, agrees!”

“She’s not your wife. We’re supposed to be down here for a family day. You two wind up and go wandering off, who the hell knows what time you’ll be back? The sun will be down, and we’ll be stuck here freezing.”

One step ahead, “Tell ya what, just to prove I’m a sport, whatta say we share a room, I’ll even pick up the tab . . . and we can do it all over again tomorrow. Here, take some cash. I saw a vacancy sign on the front of that rooming house, right over there.”

“Where’s everybody going to sleep?”

“Get a double. The kids can squeeze into one bed, you and Violet on the other. Phil and me can sleep on the floor.”

Both women contemplated.

Phil complained, “Hey, why you volunteering me to sleep on the floor?”

Carl stepped on Phil’s toe and said under his breath, “Shut the fuck up! We’ll be out all night anyhow.”

“C’mon, Gloria! Don’t be such a party pooper. Can’t you just throw caution to the wind now and then, and like you say, go with the flow for Christ’s sake. This is a chance of a lifetime. Holy Christ! . . . Both Phil and I have been lucky enough to get a double-dose of sea gull shit all over us. Christ, it’s a God send!”

Gloria’s eyes of concern steered away from Carl’s and looked towards Violet, searching for an out, “Whattaya think?”

“Well, the weather supposed to be even nicer tomorrow, at least it says so in the paper. I’m game, if you are . . . Let them go have their fun. I’m only giving Phil $50.”

Gloria grabbed a verbal straws, “What if ya get eaten by a shark?”


“No, I’m not kidding, the lottery, the sharks, the bird shit, it all could be the same.”

“You’ve been reading too much of that UFO stuff in them rags. Get a fucking grip.”

“Well, you better watch your ass. Don’t drink!”

Turning her attention towards her brother-in-law, “Don’t let ’em get you drunk, Phil. You know how you are when you’re drunk.”

“Ok, it’s all settled then, we’re off,” Carl rapidly galvanized the deal.

“Wait a minute! What about checking in, changing your clothes and cleaning up, getting that bird dung off ya?”

“Are you fucking crazy? Wash away my good fortune! No time for that, the clock is ticking!”

“So, you want me and Violet to schlep back to the car and check in. How ’bout if there’s no double room, and we’re across the street or something, or someplace else?”

“Just put a note on the windshield of the wagon. We’ll find you. We’re fucking truck drivers!

“C’mon, Phil lets hit it!”

Both men pecked their wives on the cheeks with bird shit on their foreheads.

“Get away from me you idiot, I don’t want that stuff on me!” Gloria made a face.

Carl was so excited he didn’t say goodbye to the kids. Both men with combined enthusiasm and the conviction of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, quickstepped over the sand like unbridled locomotion as they ran up the boardwalk’s wooden steps and swaggered towards destiny.

*    *    *

Two deserted women sat and marveled, watching them as they palled away. It broke their fat hearts how they were so eager to escape—thrilled to death by escaping the day to day—the dishes in the sink—the wrinkled clothes littering the bedroom’s floor, the dusty furniture, the overgrown lawn—what there was of it. It gnawed away at their hearts seeing their guys attain such a high, to go off and maybe throw their lives away on a green-felt table. At the same time, they were happy for them, cause they loved them! They swore way back, when they were promising lustrous brides that they’d love them forever, and desired to make them happy; and in Gloria’s mind, she tried her best. But those days were so-long ago, back when Carl’s tummy was flat, eons ago, when he’d played with her tits half the night, and when her girth was light enough for him to scoop her off the sofa, and cart her off to the bedroom to fool around, while talking silly, half-witted shit . . . kidding with her . . . sharing with her his dick’s name way back when they screamed out with delight during what were cuddling, loving, magic moments when he’d say, “Baby, baby, baby,” over-and-over all throughout those almost-forgotten, glorious nights.

Violet sat in silence, she also watched the two oafs shuffle off. She reflected too, as if on the same page as Gloria. She placed down her windswept tabloid.

“You ever think about other men?”

Those sentiments rattled Gloria out of her trance. “How do you mean?”

“You know, somebody new, somebody who pays attention.”

Gloria waited for Violet go on. “I mean, Phil, well Phil’s been good, real good, but I don’t know, sometime I just fantasize about somebody else, somebody more sophisticated, somebody well read, and more worldly, somebody more interested in things, than just how the friggin’ Flyers did in last night’s hockey game.”

“Geez, Violet, sounds as if you have a problem.”

“I don’t really, it’s just . . .”

“It’s just you’re getting an itchy snatch, and keep thinking like that you’ll wind up jazzing the air-conditioner repairman.”

“Oh, that sounds chilling!”

“Oh! Aren’t you the pun-stess.”

“Well, there’s no harm in fantasizing.”

“I suppose not, just as long as you keep it in perspective.”

“C’mon, Gloria let’s have some of our own fun! Let’s check out some of the men coming down the boardwalk. We can pretend. It will be harmless. We’ll rate them . . . First we’ll size them up, and finally, we’ll determine if we’d do ’em or not. Let’s see who winds up with the most do-able ones.”

Gloria somewhat taken, “Well, I never . . .” Then, “Ok! . . . If anything, only to appease, you. . . Ya know, Violet, ya got me thinking you dirty-minded wench. Don’t let the kids hear!”

The woman began to pick out subjects.

A parade of board walking husbands, boyfriends, sons, grandfathers, nephews, bastard children, a herd of moseying, prancing, jogging, biking or marching marked subjects became the moving focus the then-there- very make up of the two women’s lusts and desires.

With detail, they compared butts, noses, builds and attire. More then half were right-away discarded off the then doable list. Appearances provoked laughter; “Oh, my God, could you possibly imagine!” They’d break into fits of hysteria. They expanded the guessed-at attributes of their marks, so to determine, the women fitting them into categories of ‘who were,’ and, ‘who weren’t,’ of what they called ‘muff divers.’

“He’d never!” chuckled Gloria, who by then tossed away reservations about partaking in such shenanigans. She tossed them away along with the candy wrapper she had just discarded on the beach. “He looks too fussy. Look, ya can tell he picks at his food. Can’t see him down there during Leno, talking to that little man in the boat.”

There was a lull in the action.

Violet spotted a guy coming down the boards, about two blocks away. His coming at them swing and cadence appeared more as a determined gait, which drew Violet’s attention. “Here comes a lone ranger!”

Gloria, “Let’s check him out.”

Violet hmms, “Oh, I like his walk! Look at it closely. I like him already!”

“How can ya tell, I can hardly make him out, he might have no teeth, and be bald from this distance.”

Violet, discounted Gloria’s skepticism, “Oh, this is like Lawrence of Arabia! Remember when that Omar Sharif came riding out of the desert on that camel? Ooh, he was all in black! That scene was so sexy! You don’t know how many times I’ve fantasized Omar riding to me.”

“You’ve flipped out, kid.”

“No, look, just look at him coming, catch that walk. It’s not really a walk. I don’t know what you call it. It’s like a glide as if he’s in some groove, on tracks, and with each step, he sways from side-to-side just the right amount, and he swings evenly . . . I don’t know, I’ve read where they say a man’s walk is a woman thing. Maybe it’s mine? Oh, boy, he’s getting closer!”

*    *    *

Yep! It’s our sap, oblivious to the sizing up, with him heading towards destiny, still racking his brains about Carrie Fisher, and Mik, and sweet Jamie, who’s love he tossed away back in Hawaii.

The two sex-appeal judges had no idea about the man.

He’s wearing shorts, slip on shoes, no socks, and was cloaked in a maroon wind breaker. He looked damn serious, even from a block away, and he was sporting sunglasses.

*    *    *

“Oh, here he comes!” said an excited Violet.

“See, he is bald! . . . Combs his hair with a wash rag I bet.”

“I don’t mind bald men. Daddy was bald.”

“Well you can have him then.”

“No! No Gloria! Don’t give up on him so easily. Look! He’s got nice calves, hmm, muscular. I bet he got a fuzzy little tush. I’d like to see his thighs, bet they’d be licking good but his shorts are too, god-damned long . . . I detest that style.”

Gloria began to pay closer attention.

“He does have a certain sense about him. Ooh! He kind of reminds me of Cheech—remember him from them Cheech and Chong movies? Carl loved them. Old-pig Carl was always trying to get me to give him head. But I used to fantasize about getting-it-on with Cheech. . . Look close, you can tell the bastard knows everything that’s going on all around him, keen bastard I bet he is.”

Then with more interest, “I bet the scum bag has already checked us out. Ooh, maybe he’s a spy or something. Maybe he’s armed. He’s got that sort of look.”

“Uh! Uh! He’s a smoker. Here comes the cigarettes. Wonder what brand he smokes?”

“Probably Merits.”

“Nah, he’s too young.”

“How old would you say he is?”

“I don’t know, maybe mid-forties, can’t tell about this one

“Gloria! Let me ask you something. I mean, wouldn’t you love to have the courage and walk up to a total stranger, a man that appealed to you, and with your emotions cool as a cucumber saying so in a husky voice, ‘Hi, my name is, Gloria, let’s fuck?'”

Gloria blinked her eyes but didn’t break her link with Violet’s. In a not-so-sure-tone, “Not really, Violet, but it’s your party, go ahead give it a try. I don’t care . . . those two lug heads will be gone for hours. If they come back, I’ll say you ran into some friends down from the city, and ya went up for coffee. Go ahead, go get your brains fucked out.”

“Don’t think I have the guts do ya?”

“OK. now we’re serious, Let’s see. Let’s take a good look at this fancy of yours here, who you’re about to throw your life away for, along with the respect of your sister to boot . . . I’d say, five-eight or five-nine, I’d say about 170 lbs., somewhat of an athletic build . . . Ooh, you are right, he does have a sexy walk. I’d like to see what’s behind those sunglasses though. You don’t know a man until you take a good look into his eyes. Looks like he could have money, or knows about the finer things of life. I don’t know, there is something about him, like you say.

“And look at the way he puffs on that cigarette. Christ, Bogart couldn’t have done it any better. Ooh, now I want him too!”

Violet desired an answer, “So, what ya think, do you think I have the spunk?”

“Like I say, it’s your call, kid.”

Taking a deep breath Violet pulled her girth out of the beach chair.

She stood there, on edge, so tempted to take the first step. “What the hell,” she said advanced two steps then braked. She looked down at a-still-seated Gloria who was utterly dramatized while nailed there in her beach chair.

“Who am I kidding? I love Phil too much.”

Gloria sighed, “Boy, you had me going there for a minute, girl. I was ready to have you shipped off to the loony bin. If you would have taken one more step I would have had to tackle ya, right there in the sand.”

They both took a final glance at what could have possibly been Violet’s afternoon delight. They stared hard and long towards Violet’s fantasy.

Our sap was not aware how he was just sized up and taken apart. They took one last long gander at the backside of him, as he floated away, his downtrodden determination and pace, more like a subtle chugging as he glided his sorry way towards Bally’s Grand Casino.

Gloria summed, “To tell you the truth, now that I’m getting a good rear view . . . now, that’s my cup of tea. I’d like to hold onto them two round buns while they were pumping me to goddamned Kingdom Come . . . Oooh! Look what you’re turning me into Violet!”

“Oh you dog you!” cooed Violet.

*    *    *

Both women sat awhile, and continued to play their game In total they came up with about 20 doables, a rate of about 15%.

*    *    *

They gathered up the kids and walked towards the rooming house, checked in. They were wiped by the sun. Gloria and Violet napped while the kids made a racket, and drove old people soaking their own woes on the porch in rocking chairs, plum crazy, as they carried on wildly around the rooming house’s porch.

As the two tugboat Annies snored, their men were not thought of. They should have been concerned, ’cause they had entered the dark side! The husbands by then were within the vice where the devil lives.

Bad fortune lay ahead, and thus omens of destiny and uncertainty of their lives began. The illegally-parked station wagon was being towed away by the police. The worse would occur before the evening elapsed.



So, it’s last year and we’re on page 69. I’m back on the seashore in New Jersey, swimming upstream in the throes of this Going Out Of Business fiasco. At the time I’ve been back for a couple of weeks. You understand, from-the-get-go, things were stormy, both at the business and while lodging at my buddy’s home. Still, my buddy and I would go out and have fun and subsequently my buddy introduced me to this Mik.

She’s perky and friendly, built nice, and upon introduction she confesses how she’s been eager to meet the “very-one” she’s heard so much about, “Heard it all,” she said, that she got the skinny from my pandering-buddy’s lips.

Beforehand, while on the way to rendezvous with this Mik and another of her empty-headed friends, just fifteen minutes after he lied to that bitch at home, telling her we were off to watch an NBA play-off game at the Sports Bar, my buddy revealed he was more interested in Mik’s girlfriend, the other empty-head we would hook up with at the bar.

His face reflected from the lights coming off the dashboard. His jaw lowered, braying how he was bored with the present mistress; moaning that she suffered from a sorry case of puppy love, then he said how she couldn’t wait for their escape from Jersey, her predicting them being lovey-dovey forever.

“Forever! . . Fucking forever, the bitch says . . . ”

My buddy startled me as screamed and laughed at the same time! His beforehand sullenness turned to glow at that moment in the scope of those dashboard lights, “These fucking broads have some nerve!”

He leaned towards the wheel, drove with one hand and waved a just lit smoke with the other. Those dashboard lights could have been the floodlights on a stage while spotlighting my buddy. He came more alive!

“Just after ya plan to get rid of one, another one wants to jump right in there with a new bag of hang ups and a mitt-full of quirks, and some bitch’s, inbred desire to control your life. . . Fuck that shit!”

My buddy drove on with half of his attention on the road, half on his verbal outburst, then regaining his composure, he leaned back into the more obscure darkness of the driver’s seat, took a deep drag off his fag, seemingly more relaxed, by then backstage and out of the revealing glow of the dash’s lights.

In his usual calm, devious manner, he evenly lipped he’d been desiring to line up a double date between, he and I, and Mik, and this other one; her friend, the one who he called a goddess.

His projected bottom line was for the four of us to have a go at it.

It’s not my favorite venue. At my age I’ve come to terms. I’m in love with, being in love, or what I deem as an emotional rescue. If neither of them manifest; to at least have them pretend as if they’re dog crazy over me, even if it’s only skin deep . . . even if they’re lies.

Such emotion Carrie’s capable of offering toward the right fellow.

The thought! To have chics get drunk, then to do some slide-shoe shuffling on the dance floor, a little kissy-huggy bear, get ’em to someplace comfy, and then, for us to indiscriminately yank on each other’s body parts . . . to do the oodie-ah-ah . . . ecstatic… riveted to the lurid spot by pleasures, the erotic epitome, an opportunity for us to permit our minds to enhance that raw steaminess; . . . well, on second thought, they are yummy aspects . . . but they’re not what I’m really looking for . . .

I’m looking for the long run.

*    *    *

I’m snapping myself back to reality–it’s tonight or never!

My buddy’s wife got a further bug up her ass, winds up throwing me out of the house during a senseless rage! She evicted me from the very place where I’m supposed to be a guest; the very household I supposedly came to rescue and save from the claws of debt services and court-ordered leans.

My buddy became furious and showed not an ounce of sympathy

toward her boohooing. His primary worry, the inauspicious possibility of a truncated sale. Surprisingly, he laid down the law and dictated he was depending on me to run him out the business.

She fired back, “Marry your buddy then, see if I’ll come around to help out. See if he’ll suck your dick. I’m finished! You two can go ahead and do what you want . . I’m not doing another god-damned thing, ‘cept, my nails.”

No chance!

Good riddens! My buddy and I winked at each other. We forced her to quit! We understood the bitch was a surefire quitter anyway. Ya wouldn’t want her in your foxhole. The trade off, she got me out of the house. We got her out of the business!

But for me, I’m in Jersey, all the fuckin’ way from Hawaii!

By being a true friend, I evaluated the guy’s dilemma, thinking how he was a family man, and with him rearing two kids, supporting a household, pressure up the yin yang. I hadn’t come this way to be disruptive.

But what about me? I’ve got no place to go, no place to put my stuff, no other friends in the area? Plus I had to deal with the MACINTOSH, the fucking, two-ton printer and 3-months worth of clothes. There I was with a trunk load of hardly sold novels, written by some obscure writer from Hawaii, named, Lou Christine, aka, Philadelphia Lou.

He offered to put me up in a motel.

Now this girl Mik, my buddy’s side-action, she seemed sweet and sort of innocent; seemed she possessed a kind heart. Mik offered, “Look, stay at my house. I’m in the throes of divorce, and I have a three-bedroom house, and besides,” she says, “I could use some good company.”

It was a deal. My buddy was ecstatic, been wanting to fix me up with Mik, to get her off his back. So naturally I took advantage of her offer. Motels are so depressing.

Right after I moved into Mik’s my buddy kept quizzing me about our goings on, during the late-evening hours; he did so after he picked me up at her house in the morning while we motored off to work.

That hardly used Mercedes was by then off limits to moi. He’d query, while on the road, and he continued while inside his schlock-furniture store. “Was I boffing her yet?”

I should mention we kept it a secret where I was staying. It was clear to his bitch wife I was solidly in place when it came to the store and business. The bitch came to pragmatic terms. I was needed. I won’t expound on the range of my influence, but she resolved herself to the matter.

With me being construed as invaluable she sweetened her tone once I was out of their household. She was rarely inside the store but she called often to quiz about the goings on and to ask my buddy if he’d be home for dinner. Resigned to the facts, she told us both to just go ahead and make serious money.

It wasn’t that I washed myself of her, behind the scenes it got back to me how she remained extremely curious, harping on my buddy’s ear! She’s gossipy. I revealed little about my personal life! She drooled to be filled in about where I rested my hat. The hard-boiled wench presumed and voiced aloud, towards their chump friends and the office girls that I was shacked up with a waitress, one who worked at a nearby diner, a diner where sometimes I’d breakfast.

God forbid, if she would have found out that I was bunking with Mik. She would have put two-and-two together. She knew Mik. All had been friends. Back then Mik made no secret she had a case of the semi-hots for my buddy. Placed together she was cognizant how Mik was then an almost-divorcee . . . She would have wondered how would I have befriended Mik. Piecing together the nexus, she would have fumed. I should mention now, my buddy’s been caught cheating in the past, caught aplenty.

*  *    *

Once, his wife accidentally played a homemade video, a porno tape, videoed between my buddy and some bimbo who once was employed by him. That enormous fuck up landed him in deep shit. Seems the old-lady and other female employees often viewed a few-days worth of network soaps, after work, in their home, did so a night-or-two each week. Seemed, somehow, my buddy’s private-smoking-gun-of-a tape unraveled right before the startled viewers!

At first it was perceived as some-sort joke. The women would have swore and predicted that my buddy and their contemporary were plainly funning . . . but when the steamy outrageous sounds of moaning and groaning led to the deep-rooted sight of ravish cock sucking . . . and continued to do so, vividly, right out of the TV’s monitor while my buddy’s two-toddler daughters paraded in full view of the TV! In the very room!

Golly Goober, they were in for the show of their lives as long as it would last!

The bitch yanked out the evidence and threw everybody out and went into an absolute rage! Somewhere along the line he crawled back, explaining it was just a dick thing and that she was still the queen. She never really forgave him and brought the subject up constantly, during stormy, private moments.

Knowing of the past, understanding how vindictive the bitch can be over the years-I got out of there and moved in with Mik.

I’m as red blooded as any other cat, but fortunately I’ve never messed around with another man’s woman, regardless if she’s side action or the man’s main squeeze. It’s not a religion but my style.

This Mik and I hit-it-off real good. She’s loud and fun, and irreverent. She chewed, cute-like, on the filter of her cigarette. She’s red-haired and small-mouthed, sparkling eyes with a petite-athletic build.

We rustled ourselves out the door after playing gin at 3:00 a.m. and steered ourselves towards a nearby Burger King, up on the Garden State Parkway. There, while wolfing down a Whopper she fantasized about when my buddy would escape from the witch . . . she chatted away, while sipping her Coke. She predicted he was going to wrap things up and whisk her away to Florida and how happy she’d be.

My wits solidly predicted-no chance, my lips said nothing. It wasn’t for me to bust her bubble.

*    *    *

On my days off, I rented a spiffy-red convertible, and we took day trips to Philadelphia. We’d stroll the Benjamin Franklin Parkway’s tree-lined boulevard. We gazed at the white-stoned columns in front of the buildings.

Further along the parkway I introduced Mik to the works of Auguste Rodin. Representations of his art were housed in the Rodin Museum flanking the parkway. I spoke of the man’s legacy. She seemed impressed. Hand-in-hand we passed the water fountains. Their mist suppressed the heat of the sun. We enjoyed the lazy summer day.

Adrenaline pumped through our veins as we sprinted in front of oncoming traffic blitzing across circles with zooming cars. We broke our handholding. It was each person for themselves. Once across and while breathing heavy we laughed about surviving and making it to the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum. The museum’s the one with the long flight of steps, the stairs of Rocky fame.

Inside the museum I directed her attention towards the paintings and works of the masters. I turned her on to Monet, Renoir and Cezanne.

She was aware of my background, at least part of it. My buddy must have revealed I was an author, yet she saw me strictly as a city slicker, a hustler, and she never expressed any curiosity about my writing aspirations.

I’ve always been aware of my blue-collar upbringing. I shelved that aspect of me when in the museum. There had always been a sense rumbling within me, something that defied definition, the way I felt and thought, when I placed myself in front of those masterpieces. They let loose a calming effect on my psyche.

While trying not to sound full of myself, I expressed those mostly hidden emotions, hopefully in the sincerest of terms.

Then and now, when my eyes have gazed at those impressions, I’ve tried to place myself back to the moment at the artist’s studio as to capture the essence.

I expressed the same toward Mik, how I’ve envisioned my very self, naked, being immersed and mixed in the swirl of pastel-colored paints. It would take a mush of words to paint the picture. Yet I said that I saw myself as miniature, wet, a mere swirl on the painter’s pallet. I spoke in such a way that I could almost see myself being soaked up by the painter’s brush and then dabbled-on the canvas, as a sticky base, or to be expanded as a glob of gooey paint, or how perhaps I’d be melded behind the painted values. Maybe I’d eventually evolve as a chalky figure, tucked in the shadows of a drawing, depending on the cadence and will of the creator. It would be similar to an acid trip I suppose being brushed-and-smeared smeared-and-brushed and smartly blended atop. Wow! All those colors!

I placed into words for the sake of the story my impressions of those artists, and about how I suspected they might orchestrate the process during the height of their creativity, and how they integrated those unbridled emotions as they arranged spectacular landscapes. I spoke about the tips of the brushes, the bristles on the canvas and how they spread or fanned out on paint already applied. I did so in such a way and I wasn’t even stoned.

For Mik’s sake I mimicked how I perceived the method and tight-quartered-control wheeled by the maestros and did so in an animated manner as if I was applying the application myself. My moves became abbreviated and supposedly precise as I took a shot at demonstrating the technique used for cubism while referring to Picasso and Duchamp.

My words highlighted my perception of perfection and I expressed not as eloquently as I may have preferred how the finished product depended on the steady hand of the master. While feasting my eyes and talking my spiel I did my best to bring the moment back for Mik as I saw it.

Then I grew quiet. She did too.

The notion of it all!

And with us standing there, with me right next to her, and her next to me, I could feel the static electricity amongst the splendor . . . We were spellbound. I strongly suspected that thoughts of eroticism were running concurrently throughout our libidos. I sensed such by the sounds of brief breaths being let-out as we breathed through our mouths-and there’s no doubt in my mind, that somehow, right then, we were on the very verge of fucking, well at least fucking each other inside the boundaries of our minds’.

My hunch, right on the money . . . she ‘fessed up later (an intimate time) those were her exact sentiments! And she bravely said how her pussy twitched and she was wet with wonder back when we were both planted in front of Claude Monet. . . . Said she too felt the tension, the amount essential to ignite the spark of romance. She confessed further her insides were on absolute fire. In so-many words she admitted that she would have just loved it, and may have squealed with delight, if I would have taken the initiative and thrown her right-the-fuck down on that dusty, marble floor and done the deed-fucked her brains out and done so without inhibitions in front of the “oh, my goodness,” geriatric, tea-toddler crowd-done so ferociously, in front of the Negro, uniformed kguards, who would have said, ‘shame-on-you, boy,’ and done it all fully clothed, only after exposing the essentials and done it directly in front of the priceless and oh-so, colorful legacies, left behind by those sexy Frenchmen.

After learning about those particular painters passions and zest for life, I believe they may have created such scenes to perhaps entice perspective lovers. . . to stir the juices, to spark, to prompt, to incite the action and to welcome such impromptu moments of ecstasy.

In my mind the left-behind artwork became the long-ago artists eternal price of admission for their spirits to perpetually savor and for them to then witness, with their paintings somehow being their portals into the-now, the sweet-tender incidents brought on to the living by the fruits of their labor. The ghosts of the messieurs would have had front-row seats, a special viewpoint, so to dabble and amuse themselves while they were in the beyond. Hopefully, they would have desired to capture our scene and interpret such by their own means, while wildly aroused themselves, taking quick glances, while oscillating back and forth between our erotic happening and the accepting canvas. Hopefully they would have attested that we would have really been something!

*    *    *

On other occasions we’d drive up to New Hope. After walking around and doing some window-shopping we’d take in the summer evenings near the slow-moving waters meandering down the old canal, a canal adjacent to the more-active Delaware River. We’d partake in stimulating conversation and fill ourselves with elegantly prepared, romantic dinners, maybe sip a nice wine at some quaint bistro and we’d watch the ducks float atop the water. Our attention would be startled now-and-then by breaching carp.

Think Carrie would like that?

During interludes from eating and talk she’d peek up from her dish and concurrently my eyes would do so too. And the growing intimacy would force our eyes to stay frozen and fixated on each other’s.

Fixated and silent, I’d ignore my fruta de mar, and she’d let her half-eaten lamb chop sit. We’d gaze at each other, her grays melding into my browns and my browns into hers. We’d not be embarrassed.

Instead, it was a steady easy-going stare, stating there was no pressing reason to utter words, words that couldn’t convey or substantiate what those glances meant. At the same time, then wasn’t the time-or-place to bring that suppressed emotion to a head.

We had yet to become intimate. Yet, Mik and I established footings. Those prolonged looks indicated a strong acknowledgment. Acknowledgments such as those remind me of magic moments. Please bear with me.

*    *    *

Ever notice other couples?

There are instances that happen between couples, people who have footings, footings established long before the kids and the whatever else comes along between two people who have decided to link up for perhaps the rest of their lives. Perhaps you have experienced such acknowledgments yourself?

OK, here we go!

Let’s say you and your significant other or live in–let’s say you’re both fast asleep but both wake up in the middle of the night. Lets say you both participate in take-your-breath-away, tender-loving oodie-ah-ah?

Hopefully, after you’ve both gotten your rocks off, then-maybe because of a little thing, a squabble, because somebody didn’t take out the trash, or somebody didn’t remember to mail a check, a domestic condition persists and broods–a petty thing.

So what happens?

Still smarting, both of you turn over and go directly to sleep, but usually, despite those rubs, the very next morning, when both parties eventually come face-to-face, maybe in the kitchen, even if a pal is over for coffee or the kids are playing around, at first glance, without saying a word, there comes a nod, an inference and the luminary acknowledgment. “You was something last night, baby!”

You see there always isn’t need for words. It’s where less is more, a facial expression, a simple-enough acknowledgment sealed, delivered and appreciated!

Mik gave me those kinds of acknowledgments, punctuated with subtle stares. Despite the fact we hadn’t merged our passions into a bay of bliss those stares offered enough float to have me bobbing along.

*    *    *

So, this Mik and I would jaunt off to Jersey shore clubs, further on down the coast in places such as Sea Isle City and Stone Harbor. We’d get boozed up, involve ourselves in some dirty dancing and maybe, do a little teasing, friendly cuddling, but not the nasty.

We had the same kind of fun Carrie and me are capable of having.

*    *    *

A unique spirit dwells and surges at the South Jersey Shore on weekend nights during the summertime. It’s there, during June, July and August, where an entire region comes together to party.

South Philly types cast away their indifference about the North Philly kids. Dark featured Italian guys flash their pearly, white teeth while smiling at suburban beauties. Their counter parts, those, South Philly Willyettes showcase sensational, naughty bust lines, barely bound in halter-tops. The heads’ of the goddesses’ are teased. They in turn pout their lips, and coo suggestively, towards the straight-laced, looking, prepschool boys.

At the shore, in the good-ole-summer time, the urban and suburban kids cram next to one another. They hail from other places too, such as Penn State, Kutztown State and Rutgers.

The street-corner punks come down from K & A in Philadelphia, and remain in a leery peace with tough-guy rivals from 5th and Pike. It’s a truce only capable at the seashore.

Timeless mainstays such as “I’ll Survive” is one of those tunes belted out in a moving fashion. Up on the stage at a packed beach bar a long-haired saloon singer does a Boz Skaggs standard. When he reaches a familiar part of the song with the lyrics going something like: . . . I’ll love you more today than . . . the vocalist extends his microphone towards the crowd. Shouted back are the rest of the lyrics, a resounding . . . “YES-TER-DAY! . . . But not as much . . . as tomooorrrrrowwww!” . . .

I’ve taken note: The Eagle’s Hotel California has to be the most popular pop song in the world. When played live, or through jukebox speakers, no matter, if it’s in Spain, Greece, or Bangkok, Waikiki, or Margate, New Jersey, the lyrics seem to spark sing-alongs. I’m not talking karaoke here.

I’ve seen tough Samoan guys with torsos wider than Amanas and demure Spanish girls who can’t utter a word of English–no matter-they recall every word, “She goes out with pretty boys . . . she calls friends.”    

The tunes run the gambit, from Frankie Vali to Grunge. Other tunes mesh with the distinct Philly sound. For the time being problems are shelved.

*    *    *

I’m a hopeless romantic. Time did a loop-de-loop on me. I ventured into life’s mysterious fifth season. But that was last year, at the shore.

Despite the titillating, there was the sobering real: back in Hawaii the truth was, a sweet, patient, young girlfriend of mine named, Jamie, burned a faithful candle in our grass shack; her doing so from way out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. She couldn’t hear the yeah-yeah tunes or Gloria Gaynor’s, “I’ll Survive.” Instead, the wick burned down. Who she thought was her Hawaiian warrior, was out gallivanting with this, Mik. He promised he’d be back soon.

Initially, I told Jamie my buddy needed me for no-more than 4-to-6 weeks.

I began to lose it. This Mik infiltrated my consciousness. No matter what I did, where I drove, who I was speaking with, whether it be work or play, thoughts of her were running around in my mind. I started wondering if Mik would like as much as me, certain songs, those tunes pulling the strings of my heart blaring out over the radio. Everything I sensed I somehow shared with her even if it was vicariously. I began to have more vivid visions of us wrapped around each other in our nakedness, mouth to mouth, groin to groin, imagining the delicious give and take which takes place during humping penetration, the prolonged in and the prolonged out. I fell haplessly gah-gah for, Mik, with stupid, weak, sentimental me becoming emotionally involved, when I fucking shouldn’t have.

My buddy didn’t have a clue about the time bomb ticking away inside me. I always figured, that in some aspects, he had misread me, or maybe he just permitted me to slide, and that he perceived me as insensitive as himself. Of course, men protect themselves and usually only reveal such about themselves in the presence of women, women like Lauri, Diane, Paddy Lee, Jamie and this Mik, along with another hundred thousand others that men like me usually get drunk in front with live and personal . . . But men rarely expose their tender feelings amongst men. So, how was he to know? He saw me as durable in matters of commerce and sport.

His flouting, for what was supposed to be for my amusement and benefit, came my way in the form of his recollections about he and Mik’s sexual liaisons. It began to piss me off. I became further irked at the nasty way he referred to Mik as no-more-than an object of pillow talk. Whenever he spoke of her he’d slip in a sentence or two that presented a constant image of Mik, face-down, biting-the-pillow, and painted her as nothing more than a wet-pussied receptacle.

It didn’t add up, nor did it seem justified, why my buddy seemed so uncaring toward her in front of me and behind her back. She spoke of my buddy in tender terms and seemed not to burden him other than the usual, dinner and whatever. She remained convenient and at hand for almost 20 years. Yet he spoke of her as if she was a strumpet. She praised him to the high heavens. I remained baffled.

He made it entertainment, to recall their entanglements. He did so in graphic detail.

Tells me how he preferred fucking her, especially while putting the meat to her from behind. He’d place a sparkling gleam in his eyes when giving an account in buddy-boy fashion; tells me how he used to stand her up, and then bend her over, and fuck-her-from-behind!

With arms drooped down by his sides, he’d do a wiggling shimmy, laughing his ass off, busting a move. His storytelling heightened. He revved up. His voice vibrated when sharing the thrill they both got when he began slapping her viciously and with vengeance on her bare behind!

I received a command performance. My buddy’s voice broke with exaggerated laughter. He twisted his puss, to supposedly show me just what her face looked like when filled with his raving passion and while he whooped on her behind. He added the sound effects–mimicking a riveting moan-said those moans made the head of his dick rock solid.

Each time he slapped her, a certain sequence of occurrences occurred: He’d whack her! She’d moan! The head of his prick swelled. Said the rage had him anticipating a dick-arousing scream. And he figured down deep, with girly-girly desire she too desired that he’d become enraged and act upon it, a cause and effect that would stretch the sensitive insides of her wet pussy–said his penis became so hard he could have turned himself into a symbolic Paul Bunyan with such a stiff neutron . . . and he could have shaved-in-half a thick, bed poster belonging to the hardwood bedroom suite situated in the rear of the furniture store.

Each mighty ass smack packed more thunder with Mik bent over and leaned on hard, hog-tied in spirit, while getting boffed from behind.

The fucky-slappy session provided an instant response and rose to a fevered pitch!. . . SMACK! OOOOH! . . . SMACK! OOOOH! OOOOOOOH! . . . SMACK! OOOOOH! OOOOOH! OOOOOOH!

He unfolded those details as we sat across from each other, next to his always-messy, always-cluttered desk. He’d say, “I’d had the bitch right in this very office, bent over this very desk . . . Once I’d start whacking her the top of her body would start squirming all-the-fuck over the place like some slithering snake . . . Ya should have been there, Lou . . . You shoulda heard the fucking howling!

“The bitch knocked all the fuckin’ papers and everything else off the desk and to the floor. Then in the throes I didn’t give a shit. . . . Man, I’d be jamming. . . Christ! . .

After she’d be gone, it would take a full-half hour to pick up everything off the floor. I’ll tell ya though, that Mik can get me fucking going! You should try some of that shit.”

*    *    *

I listened without comment. I should mention, my buddy had promised me a $10,000 bonus at the end of our deal. My steaming righteousness wasn’t perturbed enough, when it should have been, or to the degree as to tell him to shut-the-fuck up. I stayed cool.

So, Mik and I were flirting. I maintained my wherewithal, as to protect myself, and passed on professing my inner feelings to either my buddy or Mik.

Well, lets say one night I got stirred up, and I made a romantic move. She rebuffed me. Told me I was out-of-line. Said, she loved my buddy, had so for years.

I could have said, “Fuck a bunch of buddies. You’re mine now, bitch I’ll make you mine! You’ll see! I’m better!” My lack of commitment, and the fact I was cheating on Jamie, saw to it that I was hedging my feelings and nailed me as weak. Today such a hedging could place me in bad light with Carrie.

I was stuck with me working for him and living with Mik. I came to grips and I became distant. Oh, I was polite and everything, but I wasn’t going for ice water.

Thinking back, my standoffishness must have ignited Mik with her no less, all of a sudden becoming hotter for me. The woman evidently was dealing with her own struggles. Her eyes gave her away and surely beckoned, but I ignored. I became impervious to the lure, attempting to fake her out, trying to indicate those gray peepers meant nothing. Oh, it’s all such a silly game lovers play.

One-night emotions unraveled! The foundation supporting her fortress caved in. Or maybe it was the thrill and exaltation of us throwing caution to the wind that came storming upon us.

She told me tenderly she’d been fooling herself. Said, she loved me from the moment she first set her eyes upon me. Said, no matter how strange it then sounded she may have fallen in love with the idea of me even before we met, said, maybe it was the stories my buddy told.

We made love the entire night and through the next day and into the next night-said, she desired to crawl under the layers of my skin, and once there she’d feel nice and cozy for all eternity.

It was the type of affection both of us were capable of giving, the type of lovemaking we’ve fantasized about, the type of lovemaking Carrie and I are capable of making. Ours will be even more fulfilling.

The wrap-your-arms-around each other tenderness became the order of the day, and thus began a burgeoning, the beginning of what’s stupidly called, new love.

After complete exhaustion, despite my ejaculations, and when the passion somewhat subsided, there was a culminating, with my inner self making silent observations. Revolting, the puppy-dog, dick wad that I am, I considered lipping the vows of promise how I-could-never-get-sick-of-you, baby. Together, we became an adhesive sensation-stuck to each other-you’ve seen chumps in the past.

I mustered up the gumption (Carrie would like that part about me) gathering the balls to go straight to my buddy and say, “Lookie here, pal, I’ve fallen in love with your mistress! She loves me too! You can’t slap her on the ass anymore.”

Like I say, my buddy is decently embedded with redeeming qualities, he flashed a broad smile, the mensch acted as if he had lifted from him a tremendous load. Nevertheless, he pulled me aside and asked if I was sure of what I was doing.

“Hey!” he proclaimed, “The reason she’s wound up with me is because she has problems. . . I took it upon myself to help her out now and then . . . Lou, can you deal with that? . . . Are you sure? I wouldn’t want to see you get fucked up! . . Remember, there’s Jamie back in Hawaii!”

You see I was crazy.

If you would have gone to the previews or read the promotional material you would have known that I had a waiting-at-home chic. I figured that down deep, I was conniving, and having my way with my buddy’s mistress. Then take into account the adversary relationship I had with my buddy’s bitch wife, and don’t forget my humanness and the tied knots and the battle scars from the ups and downs when I dealt with my past wife. So there I was again featured in another soap opera, starring once more in a Summertime New Jersey seashore drama.

Since the both of us went wayback my buddy reminded me about my primary mission in New Jersey . . . there was still a job to be done. Don’t forget, while I was encrypted in pussyitis, he and I were sword fighting on the frontier of another theater.

*    *    *

The tip-of-the-iceberg came in an ominous sign when the furniture store’s landlord threatened to sink the business. The store was so behind in rent, the landlord said he was going to drag us to court and procure a restraining order to cease us from continuing business.

Daily it seemed, there were new dragons to slay. Some problems loomed so serious they could have been the death blow. The phone rang off the hook with threats from various attorneys. Some came from bill collectors, others dissatisfied customers, others governmental agencies.

We shed more accusing light on ourselves once our intentions were out in the open. Our blatant entrepreneurial actions violated every-commercial sign ordinance in the township. We rented garish signs, with multicolored lights blinking atop boat trailers. The signs’ marquees flashed the savings, and each night when closing we rolled them closer towards the road’s shoulder and passing traffic. The fire chief was having fits. By plastering ugly-red and yellow posters in the windows and by employing outside speakers, blaring borax sales pitches, we insured ourselves visits from city hall’s building, health, fire and traffic inspectors. To an agency they threatened fines and other civil actions.

Everyday the mailman arrived with a mitt full of registered letters, letters too scary to open. The IRS insisted upon conducting a probe.

Because we were orchestrating a Going Out Of Business Sale, merchandise shipped from wary vendors was billed strictly COD. Goods had to be paid for on the spot, to the trucker and done so in cash or certified check. The newspaper, radio and TV advertisers also insisted that we’d pay up front. The pressures became enormous.

At the same time we we’re doing big-time business. I’m talking there’s still a sucker born every minute. Furniture shopping rubes were figuratively held upside down, so to shake the money out of their pockets.

It was easy. The next challenge-to keep the momentum going.

One glitch-one investigative reporter-one wise-ass radio broadcaster and the wheels driving our enterprise could have come spinning off. Any of those notions coming to be would truncate the frenzy, perhaps bringing it to a screeching, gone-out-of-business, court-ordered halt. The store and warehouse would become sealed and padlocked, inventory impounded, bank accounts frozen and for-sure, there would be hefty fines or even the possibility of jail!

If the magnitude of the scam would have been properly exposed by an aggressive prosecutor, the normally impregnable shield under the provisions of his state’s corporate structure would have been compromised. The capitalistic ploy that normally protected merchants against personal repercussions would have become nil. Our asses would have been on the line.

I say our asses, ’cause like I say, I’m a-hanger-in-there.

We’re a wealth of scamming talent. And besides the threats, the tension and whatever, there was fun. Even some woes presented comical twists.

My buddy had done steady business with an artist from Florida, with the store selling as many as 10 of his paintings per week. One night the artist shows out of the blue. He was trying to pawn off forty paintings crated inside a hitched trailer. Says in a pushy, wise-ass manner, he’s looking to unload all of them. Says he has a high maintenance babe he’s hoping to hook up with before returning to Florida. His pain-in-the-ass, old lady, who he said was a spend thrift, was driving him crazy. Said he needed some mad, throwaway money. My buddy called me for my thoughts. We could use the inventory.

But, right then, the checking account couldn’t afford the outlay of cash. The artist was hip to our situation, and he empathized with us, but because it was liquidation promotion he wasn’t gonna leave one painting without payment. He went on and on about all the times he got screwed by taking people at their word. The compromise: My buddy would give him four checks, all post dated. My buddy instructed him, if he desired to unload all of his merchandise with us, he was not to deposit the checks right away. The artist agreed, left the paintings, hooked up with his babe and then returned to Florida.

As soon as that twerp scalawag got back to Florida, he went back on his word, was pussy whipped by his bitch wife, and immediately like a good dog deposited all four checks.

The bank didn’t notice the post dates, and all cleared, for about $12,000. The checkbook went into a tailspin. Unbeknown to us we were bouncing checks! The account was wiped out.

We called the bank and complained that the checks were post dated. They said “tough luck” and turned me over to their legal department. They voiced, “ditto!”

I put my expertise to work, did an in-depth investigation, went to Atlantic County’s legal library, and found an obscure law. The federal banking commission, in one sweeping paragraph, indicated in precise words that all postdated checks were considered legally as nonentities. The law was clear. Those three postdated checks were worthless pieces of paper until such a date matured.

I threatened the bank and peppered their ears with articles and the very paragraph that said, “don’t fuck with us or else” forcing the spineless bank with reason. I bullied them to replace the funds into our account and they had better do it quick!

The balance of power swung. We had the money back, and still, it was us who possessed the paintings.

It was time for a little pay back, in the form of a practical joke.

The artist’s studio and home were about 200 miles from Orlando. I phoned him, he didn’t recognize my voice and while not identifying myself as my buddy’s associate, I pretended to be somebody else, representing myself as the General Manager of Merv Griffin’s, Resorts International Hotel and Casino.

With conviction, I said Mr. Griffin browsed through a local furniture store and Merv was quite taken by the art, and the store owner had provided me his phone number. I said, Merv desired for him to provide his art during the restoration, belonging to Merv’s other resort casino hotel, one located in the Bahamas. I said, Merv was prepared to decorate the hotel’s walls exclusively with his paintings, with me saying how the hotel had over 350 rooms and Merv suggested at least two paintings to be hung in each room. Then there were hallways, lobbies, restaurants and meeting rooms!

The artist had no idea about the validity of my pitch. But oh, was he wide open.

I don’t believe he knew that we knew he had gone ahead and cashed the postdated checks, nor was he aware the funds he absconded were being vacuumed out of his account and soaked back into ours.

The fool gushed over the phone. “Yes! Yes! Yes!” He yessed everything. Said, he’d be able to provide the inventory, and acted flabbergasted that someone the likes of Merv Griffin found his paintings fantastic.

Smoothly, I told him I was optimistic and all that stood between him and a solid deal were a few formalities, like a signed contract and for him to have a chance to meet and hobnob with Merv. Most importantly, it was essential for us to show our good will, and to present him with a down payment.

I expressed how I had made arrangements for him to be picked up in two days, by Merv’s private jet, as it would be flying near Orlando while coming down from New Jersey while on its way to the Bahamas.

“Four a.m.,” I stated. I was emphatic, indicating that he be at Orlando’s airport at precisely that time, if he didn’t want to miss a chance to go over to the Bahamas to spend a day with Merv.

The fun part, I added a dash of burn-your-ass, Texas Chili to the simmering farce. Speaking into the phone with good-ole-boy enthusiasm, I told the artist that his visit would coincide with Merv’s employees annual cook out. This year the theme was the old West

All hotel personnel, including myself and Merv, would be donned in full cowboy attire. ” . . . A good idea, “I mean if you really desired to fit in, and make a big impression with Merv, it might be worth it to come aboard the Lear duked out in such a get up.” I assured him, Merv and I would already be dressed in our get-ups adding, “Merv’s favorite color is red.”

Bubbling over the phone, thanking me for the insight, brimming with greed, the chump said he was going to rush right out to a Cowboy emporium and was fixing to get himself some sizzling duds, “boots and all.” He put a twang in his voice, how he and his cowgirl of a wife, somebody named Madge, would be there, bright eyed and bushy tailed, and be more than willing to lip congenial “howdy partners!”

I gave him my cellular number, told him to call if there’d be any problems. I’d be sure to see him at the airport, in two days, at the ungodly hour of 4:00 a.m.

My own warped sense of humor giggled myself to tears, at the sight of him and his wife, two yucks, waiting on Merv and me while dressed like fools.

My buddy monitored the call, holding his hand over his mouth. After hanging up, he and I sent shock waves of raucous laughter throughout the store. Our ruckus startled the shopping crowd. The office girls too were bent over with laughter. Even my buddy’s bitch wife, who as you know was a hit-below-the-belt broad, was tickled with humor and intrigue, impressed by our nasty get evenness. While laughing, the bitch almost appeared attractive.

My buddy complimented me for maintaining my composure, not giving it away and shedding the ongoing temptation as to laugh out loud. We were aware of the prick’s greed. We relished having the chump as our motherfucking puppet. Such a pull off added a charge. We wuz two-solid guys not to be fucked with. We wuz bad! We squeezed humorous juice from the farce often. My buddy and I would be at lunch, or on the road, or sitting around the office and we’d look at each other and crack up. We savored fucking over that Morton. Images about the dufus waiting around a deserted airport, along with the old lady, looking ridiculous in the early a.m. with them whining, how there must be some mistake. “I don’t understand, we’re waiting for Merv Griffin’s private jet.”

By noon that day, he placed two and two together. I turned off my cellular. I wouldn’t have been able to repeat the performance. He must have contacted Resorts, and then he called.

“How dare you con me. My secretary deposited the checks by mistake. What about my paintings? I don’t find it funny. Do you know how much those outfits costs? The custom red leather boots ran $300 a pair. I’m calling my attorney . . . ”

I told him he was a fucking crumb, a piece of shit, and a dope for taking it all in.

While he was screaming about lawyers and cops and everything, I told him to shut the fuck up, and listen, and to listen good. I tough talked, saying with impunity, that he’d never-ever see his money or his paintings.

We had him. He was powerless.

A battle-tested furniture-store scammer is like a commando and has to be able adapt to any situation. The creed: Lose-little, gain a-lot. Give nothing back, give nothing away, always lie your way out, and never capitulate unless the situation is hopeless and all options are exhausted.

There was an instance when a very nice woman had a substantial deposit on an expensive bedroom suite. Her history with my buddy stretched way before I arrived. Months before, she especially ordered merchandise and placed $3,000 down with her Master Card. She’d been promised, and promised, and promised, that her bedroom suite would be arriving for immediate delivery any day.

Up to some point she’d been very understanding indicating she sympathized with the delay and had gone through similar experiences in the past, but her husband was putting pressure on her. She indicated he was beginning to make noises, like he wanted her to cancel. Still, she very much desired the bedroom suite. My buddy’s instincts leaned in one direction, save the sale. He pleaded with her to wait just a bit longer. She said no. Said, her husband insisted.

“One more day!” His charming voiced flashed an award-winning buddy-smile that registered through the phone’s receiver.

In all actuality the manufacturer too, had guaranteed us that the suite would be in our hands any day. My buddy had but no choice, and even though we didn’t possess the merchandise, my buddy guaranteed the lady delivery the very next day! He said he was sending our own company truck, down south, to pick up the bedroom at the factory. He swore if she didn’t get delivery, he’d refund the $3,000 deposit on the spot.

The hands on the clock spun. Twenty-four hours passed. The day of reckoning arrived.

She said how she was taking the, day off to stay home and began calling the store every hour. My buddy, “Hi hon, oh, don’t worry about a thing. I spoke with my driver twenty minutes ago; it’s on the truck all right, should be there any moment,” insisted my buddy.

It was I, a capable henchman who was elected to make the disappointing call, “Mrs. Jones, (a hem,) hi, this is, Lou, from Sunny Side Furniture . . . Ah em, gee, we’re having a terrible time, the truck’s broken down, over in Cape May. Its got your furniture on it. We’re trying to rent another truck but we just wanted to call . . . You know, to keep you abreast . . . There’s an outside chance you might not be receiving delivery today!”

She erupted, becoming livid, screamed how we were fucking with her, putting her tits in a wringer with her husband, and about all the rescheduling, and how they struggled and removed the older bedroom set from their house to make room for the new suite. She was disgusted and soon enough, she was storming into the store for her refund!

She showed within a half hour with a stevedore looking guy at her side. Her husband had some big arms. He said nothing, yet, the husband appeared locked and ready, perhaps primed to leap and strangle us at the slightest provocation. My unflappable buddy bubbled over with apologies, heartfelt, echoing the obvious disappointment and agreed to refund them in full on the spot. He asked in an ever-so-nice way for their Master Card, so to take it in the back office to run the card through a machine, so to process a refundable credit.

I stood and watched as he ran the card through the card-taking apparatus the first time, and without the slightest sense of guilt, from behind the office door, he brazenly placed an additional $3,000 on her card, which unbeknown to the couple, then bumped up their debit to $6,000. Then he credited their account for the $3000 he had just placed against their account.

The con insured our balance in our own checking account wouldn’t be reduced or tampered with.

He gleefully returned to the anxious couple standing impatiently outside his office. My buddy gave them his best buddy smile, said in nice-guy terms how he was truly sorry. He handed them a credit slip for $3,000.

Within the week the suite arrived at our warehouse. He drove out to their home with a bottle of nice wine. The suite was promptly delivered the next day. He handled the credit card situation with equal finesse, by blaming the credit-card company. That’s saving business!

My buddy’s far from a slouch when it comes to selling; he’s what I call very strong and every bit as powerful as me. Go ahead match my scamming buddy to various clichés about the Brooklyn Bridge or about pitching something worthless to Eskimos. He had an unbelievable temperament. One comical twist regarding his and my relationship, take into account he was my employer yet he’d insist I’d smoke doobies just before work.

My buddy said I was more creative ate making up jingles and placing ads with the media and then selling furniture, all while stoned.

I chuckled, wondering how during this day and age, how employers insist their employees take drug tests. There we were, doing serious business with no room for screw ups and there was my employer, encouraging me to smoke dope.

About my buddy, regardless of him being involved in nerve-wracking awful-sounding conversations and at times up to his neck in aggravation, no matter, when it came time to go and sell he flashed the smile of an affable, balloon salesman.

On the receiving end of the telephone he fielded and juggled complaints and threats. With all the ranting and raving about delayed deliveries, he held his own.

Then at times it be he who would be doing pleading for his-own goods, trying desperately to get manufactures to ship items or give no-retreating orders to drivers to save a sale. Maybe an oversized sofa wouldn’t fit up a narrow hallway. He’d give precise orders to our delivery men, that they had to place the sofa on the roof of the truck, no matter what, even if it were raining, and have the new furniture fit through an upstairs window. Why? Because, there was a sizable COD. He kissed his-own drivers asses, to ‘just get it in.’

Every deal delivered was paramount!

My buddy’s resilient, able to place his face back together after a disturbing call and bop out front onto the sales floor. When spotting a family strolling through his domain, he’d paste on a phony smile.

“Hiiyyyy . . . Howdy. . . How can I help you lovely folks?”

If they had a little girl in tow, he’d be sure to say, “Hi, aren’t you a, sweetie! Aren’t they, adorable? I have two of my own. I just love ’em.

“Oh, by the way, every thing’s on sale folks, highly discounted. Take half-off any-lamp, any-table, any-picture, or any-accessory. We got plenty of fabulous bargains. If ya see anything ya like, I’ll be glad to work with you. It all has to go. It’s a shame, my bad luck could be your good fortune . . .”

The lookers mostly browsed. If they stopped to inspect something, we pitched them hard and tight. The sale tags on the sofas and loveseats spoke for themselves-WAS $1800–NOW ONLY $900! The crooks that we were: banged up the price of the goods four times.

*    *    *

So there I was, a furniture-selling mercenary, in Jersey. On top of that, I was drunk with lust.

For what was an instant, everything was supposedly wonderful. She began to discover the real me, the same way Carrie could.

She discovered, I’m bright and witty, basically honest and steady, soft-spoken and kind, cool and calm, sterling characteristics of which I’m sure you may have already figured.

Now I must reveal where last year’s roller-coaster of adventure in love and enterprise began to collapse: On the very eve of my girlfriend’s arrival! Yeah, you heard me right. Jamie was coming in from Hawaii to New Jersey, at that very instant, zooming eastward, at 600-miles an hour, so to spend a carefree, getaway, whirlwind vacation with her guy. A chump of a guy, who professed over the phone, that he was so lonely, and the schmuck of a, Lou, uttered those ‘I love you’ sentiments, just the week before

Well, my matees, it was up to me.

I took the initiative and sheepishly informed Mik that my Jamie was on her way and that she would be arriving the very next day!

Oh, don’t get the wrong impression I’m a stand up guy. Way beforehand, I filled in Mik about Jamie. She was well aware of our relationship. She knew we maintained a household, and that we lived in Europe for a year. During the getting-to-know-you time, I told her everything; the positive and negative.

I didn’t fill Mik in on the fact that Jamie was coming East though! The trip had been decided and planned only a few days before Mik and I came to terms, with our collective emotions. Take into consideration our hinging took place over the course of a mere week.

You see, when Mik rejected me, I figured, it was her and my buddy. I wuz lonely. My girlfriend’s arrival was primarily my buddy’s idea. He instigated such and footed the bill; said he thought I needed some genuine companionship, so, I’d be better off and then more productive. Said, he preferred to see me more relaxed, getting laid regularly, so, I could handle the pressures. How was I to predict Mik was going to fall for me?

*    *    *

We have one of those tearful all-nighters’, that’s Mik and me.

Then to think, that very night I received absolutely no trim action, primarily ’cause of my dufus honesty. I suppose I could have told her about Jamie’s the next morning. After all, we were in the infancy of our fucking.

Christ, when I look back at that very night . . . the timing of my confession-not the best. It’s painful to think about the loss; recalling the seductive way her little toosh was poured into those tight shorts, with her deliciously standing there, leaning up against the refrigerator, with her desiring and lusting for me. All was going down an instant before the ka-ka was to hit the fan!

Mik purred for Christ’s sake! That night she was extra hot. After drinking half a bottle of white wine she was bombed. She percolated. She wore a white sweatshirt, cut high at the waist with her trim, midsection exposed. Her belly was red from the sun she took that day on the beach. As if it was a pose, she leaned against the refrigerator, hands behind her back and she rocked some. Her crotch moved ever so slightly, but it was enough of an invite to stir my juices. I remember looking down, smacking my lips, taking in with her crowning jewel, that taut naval. And just under the sweatshirt, ooh . . . were those standup tits, braless, with pink, rose-budded nipples. They pressed up hard under that soft-looking sweatshirt and the outlines they made on the fabric of the shirt indicated just what was on Mik’s mind, as if those two love buttons protruding outward were saying how they at that moment were exclusively for me as underneath that cotton they were standing erect.

Her lips were wet and her eyes were glassy. It was as if those breasts were reaching out. I could almost hear them beckoning, ‘Ooh, Lou, squeeze us, suck us, fuck me, do whatever you desire. Why not just rub your dick all over us?’ Right then, filled with cock surety. That night there would be no need for coaxing on my part. I possessed the power. I had her frothing.

Yet, rapidly approaching circumstance altered the immediate future. I found myself at a risky crossroads. There are fundamentally decent factors about me that you undoubtedly are aware of, and hopefully, Carrie will eventually find out too.

Begrudgingly, I swallowed hard, passed on the steamy sex, and ‘fessed up, bringing the complicated situation to its ugly head.

Once I dropped the bomb, her hungry mood turned bulimic! She became uncontrollable! There was no reasoning; she wouldn’t listen. She lamented about who she thought I once was, or who I could have been! With tears streaming down her face and snot pouring out her nose her voice cracked as she said how I could have been the one-real man to come along out of the blue, the one man she thought who hadn’t tried to bullshit her, the way most had for the past 20 years. And sadly, she categorized me.


Hey! You out there in Paducah, up there in Poukeepsie or way out there in Portland, Oregon or in the State of Maine! I am a real man! A man who does come once in a while or a lifetime out of the blue, like the dude in Bridges of Madison County. And each and every one of you should spread the fucking word that I’m really not selfish and manipulative and conniving . . . Fuck that Kincaid guy. I wasn’t really trying to get over on Mik, or sweet Jamie. I need those facts to be known.

I wouldn’t want our Carrie to get just half of the story, ’cause it would only incriminate me. If I don’t come through tonight I need somebody to get the word out, so Carrie will able to realize she would have made a true find.

*    *    *

Mik, through her tears sobbed. Said, she wasn’t totally in the dark, nor a fool. Said, she permitted the wool to be pulled over her eyes, all the time with her realizing my buddy perceived her strictly as a zip-less fuck. She then placed me down a few more rungs, accusing that I duped her also, like my buddy, but said, I did so in a nastier way. He was more up front about what he desired, she screamed. I was a nothing, according to her. Then she about faced. With touching words, she gently placed me back on a pedestal. She praised the wishful horizons I forecasted for her. She said, she too fantasized and was emotionally invested for years how she dreamt about her and my buddy chucking the grief, to the rears of their life path while escaping from Jersey, and them both going down to Boca Raton or another Floridian-beach to live a carefree life.

Since we both confessed to my buddy that Mik and I were supposedly in love, my buddy would more than likely return to that-bitch wife, or he’d snatch another one. Where did that leave her?

With my girlfriend was coming in from Hawaii. And with my buddy living at home. Mik sensed she had been handed around, by two jerks, and then she was about to be deserted.

I tried to explain it wasn’t the case. The week before I couldn’t have been sure about her intentions. I too was lonely. What more could I say? I asked her to shelve her convictions to mull things over.

So I left Mik’s sobbing side to meet Jamie up in Philly. I did so while lovesick for Mik.

I attempted to raise my spirits when my girlfriend showed, her bouncing off the plane full of warmth. I did my earnest to show her a terrific time despite being miserable.

I rented the same red convertible Mik and I gallivanted around in. We cruised off to Gettysburg, with its electronic map and the monuments. We motored her down to Shenandoah, and cruised Skyline drive, through the woods, then changed directions and drove back up to DC. and took in the Smithsonian. We even trekked up to New York City, had bloody Marys and oysters, amongst the mahoganies inside the Plaza Hotel’s world-famous Oyster Bar.

It was much to squeeze in for a young girl, who just skyrocketed in from the Hawaiian Islands. She absorbed it all with enthusiasm and love all during those ten, long, long, long days and nights. I’m ashamed to say, she should have been absorbing so much more than culture and nature.

The moment I shipped her back, I was back knocking on Mik’s door, begging for forgiveness–professing how I missed her and wanted her so.

To tell you the truth, my lassies and ladies, I can’t honestly say if it was love or lust, probably lust. But I have to tell you, between Mik and I, something definitely brewed. A certain synergy sizzled and we permitted it to stew into a complicated goop. We listened each other out, despite the odds against us; we took an interest in each other’s lives as we compared one another’s pasts.

Don’t think I was about to dump sweet Jamie, especially when she came all the way 6,000 miles for a happy reunion. She’s too good of a person. Jamie was more loving and loyal than any other person I had ever met. No way, I wasn’t going to break Jamie’s heart in a place such as fucking New Jersey.

But my voice of reason said to me I wasn’t about to commit social suicide, either by professing my entire allegiance to Mik, the way I would do at this very moment for Carrie’s benefit. I have a grasp on Carrie, I believe I can relate to, and cherish her. Despite the positive attributes, I only fucked Mik.

It’s a pure shame because once I was back at Mik’s side she says that after thinking everything over, she has sized me up. She professed her longtime love for my buddy. Said she was ready and willing, if need be, to fuck him on the side for the rest of her life.       According to her I was a piece of shit, and she further maligned my self-esteem, when she blurted out that I was only looking for one thing.

Maybe, she was correct!

While away with Jamie, my buddy came by her house so to set things straight, and to congratulate her on making it with me.

Then while back on the job and in scamville, my buddy puffed up his cheeks and didn’t look me in the eye when he let out that he couldn’t afford to pay me the promised bonus. He said unexpected expenses popped up. Plus, he was gonna have to hold back the $2,600 he owed me which was supposed to come my way as earned commissions. All became weird.

I couldn’t take anymore and decided to get the fuck out of Jersey, to go home to my sweet Jamie, write my latest novel, and try to live a non-emotional life, do the straight and narrow, and forget about this romantic-notions stuff muddling my mind.

Mik and I came to civilized terms after all, I was still camped out there.

We went out a few nights for dinner before I departed, that’s when I bequeathed the going-away bracelet. She remained melancholy. She mellowed somewhat, since the night I opened Pandora’s Box and once again her sultry smile and spunkiness sparked my desires, as if what recently had occurred wasn’t all that tearing.

She sent kind-and-flattering accolades my way. We even slept together, but there was no oodie-ah-ah, just a sad-cuddling, swan-song.

If I were to guess, she may have presumed a bluff coming on, from my end, as if I was trying to scare her about going back to Hawaii. Perhaps she gambled, betting I didn’t have the gayoons to leave her.

These fucking broads, the way they think.

I wrongly concluded, women her age were supposed to be beyond fickle.

She stayed away the house and my bed during the last night of my stay. I waited up until I could no longer stay awake; she staggered in at about 4:00 a.m., ignored me, and went straight to sleep.

Come departing time, in the morning, she wouldn’t kiss me goodbye, mumbled something about needing sleep. I left her at dawn on a sour note; I suspect ’cause she was sore because I she felt as if I was deserting her. I bet, Carrie wouldn’t be that way.

I flew back to Hawaii, into the waiting, loving-arms of sweet Jamie. I took a deep breath once safely back home, and realized I was better off.

I’ve heard somewhere about heartbreak. In the minds of jilted women, that it plays itself out in a different manner, than it does for men. Women are supposedly crushed when the wealth of their worthwhile affections are rejected and then abandoned. They ask themselves questions, seeking answers about the unthinkable, about having their men tossing away such love and loyalty. Their way of thinking: It’s a matter of worth! No other woman on Earth could cater and care for their man any better . . . No other woman would work as hard as them to make their man happy . . . No other woman would be willing to go the distance, take the grief and still be hanging-in there. No other woman . . .

Fortunately, because of passed storms, I then safeguarded a leaky emotional existence, which earlier in my life pumped out a giving nature from a once purer heart. There’s dealing with the lost essence. The spirit of a woman lingers after she’s long gone. Sadder and more disturbing, it is if the rejected one still harbors those old-time feelings.

My initial introduction to heart-tugging turmoil occurred back as a teenager, when my girlfriend became unfaithful to me, while I was in the Army. I recalled and reran that saga all too often. For years I couldn’t come to terms with what I thought I missed out on. It was ridiculous. I was tortured.

After the Dear John, I became morose lonely and miserable. Fearing for my life should have loomed as larger. I could somehow accept the rules of war. Within love’s land of stinking voodoo there are no rules. The heart’s defeat magnifies itself into something more colossal and penetrating.

With combat there’s havoc and chaos. You survive or die. Even if ya take a hit, ya get treated by a team of doctors and nurses and hopefully one begins to heal. A broken heart is a painful stabbing that punctures deep through the tissue and haunts the soul and persists day in and day out. There’s nothing readily available to stop the pain.

We’ve touched on how some women may react.

The supposed worse part for men: When men close their eyes, they can’t erase the sights of their lost loves involved with other men.

Us guys put a different spin on things. Our slant we’re ultra physical. Back as a lonely GI, I envisioned them checking into the motel, all cuddly, arm in arm, sneaking into the very-same motel we frequented. The scenes in my mind played like a bad feature, which projected a vivid, in-color expose, in the form of some faceless Palooka banging my broad.

Worst to imagine . . . them wrapped up, moaning and groaning, doing the nasty, playing it all out the same way we once did, doing it in our old-favorite positions. It hurt to see her face down, biting the pillow, and to vision somebody else bringing up the rear. Would she remain as daring as to grasp onto the meat of the matter, take the initiative, or even act as familiar with this Jody to squat on top? Would she touch him the same? Would she talk dirty, permit her passions to run wild and then latch onto his humping hips, fling her finger nails into his back and yell like crazy, “Fuck me! Yes!     Yes! Yes! I love the cock! I was born to fuck!”

Could that well-mannered, girl-next-door type turn into a drippy, cunt-oozing nymphet and squeal on, permitting her devilish side to surface? Would this nameless one, with the power of his penis, have her go on to act like some slut? Could she be so quick to do it all with some new guy?

My imagination wandered down the wrong path. There was no going back, no off switch, my mind’s eye forced me to watch. I became privy to close ups of her pretty face, with her soft eyes shut tight, as the sordid scene became tainted with the action showing somebody else’s penis ripping away at her insides. The pangs in my heart became more agonizing, fathoming how some other guy’s ‘thing’ was capable enough to contort her face and twist her lips in such a lusty way. I wondered if she flashed the same having-sex, facial expressions for whoever, as she once flashed when I used to penetrate her. The coup-de-grace, seeing my sweet baby’s small mouth hideously stretched around the bulging head of some swollen, blue-veined prick, her making suckling murmurs as she sucked off a stranger so eagerly, in the very same place piss comes pouring out.

Those nightmares replayed themselves often until I was almost 25.

As a wounded soldier I swore! I rattled the heavens! I made a vow to the death! Today I’m still holding tight and am OK!

No woman, no glamour girl, no diva, no Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, Kim Novack, Natalie Wood, Eleanor Roosevelt, Florence Fucking Nightingale or Blessed Fuckin’ Virgin Mary, not one would ever pin me in that unenviable position again!

The age of innocent was shattered.

There was another time, back when I was married to anal-retentive Lauri, of whom I had been wed for 13-years, back during my first mid-life crisis, during the third-decade of my life when I was 36, and a time I knocked myself off kilter.

Not pleased with the course of events, and, after much self-debate and after weighing things out I decided to partake in a lively-sneaky, conniving affair.

A good run of deceiving and lying linked an 18-year-old, delicious, Hawaiian girl and me. She became the object of my pursuit. I broke every rule while breaking my wife’s heart.

A real man, a stronger soul, would have attempted to hash it out with his basically loyal, basically, caring wife. A stronger man would have respected the woman he began to loathe.

A devastating event thundered. I impregnated the girl. I was supposed to be sterile.

Shaky and understanding the repercussions, I broke it off with my with-child mistress. I limped back home to mama.

I could claim I was mixed up, scared, or feeling deprived. Once back in the fold, I missed her so. My life seemed empty without the Hawaiian girl. The blues reduced me to an only-the-lonely. My deflated spirit vowed to my wife that I’d stay away from the girl. I did. But not without fantasizing about what it could have been; it became an obsession.

So be it, I still wasn’t cured and the heartbreak of old once again nodded its ugly head. The sad side reawakened.

Yeah, leaving Mik last year was similar to when I left the Hawaiian girl.

As I remember after deserting the Hawaiian girl, I was far from happy. I was saddled with the guilt, concerned how I must have hurt her. I ached for her touch, longed for her smile. Then there were thoughts of the baby. Every goddamned love song pouring out over the radio slapped me around. Man, I wuz sliding, ‘what shitty ole love can do.’

I considered letting things slide, throwing away my business. No longer did I see satisfying merit languishing inside my exquisite mountainside home, I didn’t feel I needed my-then present friends and associates. I wuz crazy!

Instead, I did the usual, I fantasized more, envisioning myself with my Hawaiian girl, living in simple bliss, in some nirvana, pleasantly existing and eking out life in the jungles of Hawaii, eating milk and honey and papaya. More ridiculously, I saw myself as a hands-in-the-earth farmer, raising taro or some exotic, tropical fruit and maybe bringing up a bunch more kids. I savored the thoughts about maybe never having to wear shoes again.

But the reality, I had to clamp down and establish a firm grip! This was no fucking around! I had a impressionable sixteen-year-old son back at home. He depended on me. I wouldn’t say Robby was a chip off the old block, but I had taken on the responsibility that goes along with being a father. The nurturing had been well worth the effort.

I felt compelled to finish the job. Looking beyond there were additional financial responsibilities, established business interests, the day to day, and they were in jeopardy, sure to have become ruined by my selfishness and if they weren’t adhered to, then, I couldn’t ignore a healthy mortgage.

The sorriest part of my persona, I had no fucking guts.

The road became bumpy. Maui’s a small place and the news of my pandering spread. I was once a private man, people then became aware of my personal life. I felt shame. I spoke with the girl’s family.

I couldn’t ignore an obligation which propelled me to go and face the father, and then tell the Hawaiian man that I expressed his daughter, that I loved her.

“Lou, you need for know Hawaiians!” The girl’s father spoke in island pidgin.

With his Hawaiian eyes peering right into my haole’s, “Ho, brah, Hawaiians love kekeis! I love all my babies. My wife and I wen’ love our grandchildren. All us Carvalhos will love you and we’ll love Paddy’s baby!

“Ho, brah, you wen’ consider, you have one wife and one boy. I no like see you wen’ get in trouble. . . No need for worry, you come whenever, see your baby, we like see you!”

Maybe it was a bum’s rush.

The silver lining! Today I enjoy a decent “hi-dad” relationship with a smiling, handsome, ten-year old boy, of whom I call son. I have two sons now, two of whom I have to consider that here, back in the present, if events don’t go my way inside the casino, or if Carrie doesn’t somehow appear and rescue me, unfortunately I’ll make them both fatherless at early ages; a burden I have to consider. Too bad, so sad . . .

*    *    *

So, you have it, and believe it or not, there’s lots of stuff left out, a number of sound examples, where I’ve been whirled to the emotional hell-and-back,

Yeah, it happened a lot more than just once.

There were rare instances when I was the one who pulled the break-your-heart trigger. Like the song rings, ‘Breaking up is hard to do!’

Heartbreak’s the absolute worse! It’s a sensation that doesn’t just melt or just go away. Ya can’t take a pill, use a salve, or babble it all out.

One could be emotionally strong, be as pragmatic as a brain surgeon. No matter, when the strings grip your heart, you’s in trouble.

Even you, grasshopper! Ya could be logical and cool as Mr. Spock, and from a distant solar system and some fucking empty-headed chic, a doll, a broad, a diva, whatever . . . why they’ll orbit your ass and come in for a landing. It beats the shit out of me, how someone who said they only wanted to communicate, the very one who fooled ya, who professed their absolute love-and it beats the shit out of me, how they can then shift, then go into warp speed, acting as if it’s their nature, with them pontificating with an acid tongue as if they’ve been uncaring for light years! That’s where I’m coming from, ’cause at this very moment, if you like drama, I’m fucking lost in outer space!

This iceberg woman is as uncaring as any dragon. This Mik has ray gunned me back down to Earth. She’s a selfish cunt who’s giving me the business.

There ya go ladies, ya got me to do it! Ya got me to say the word women detest most . . .

I’m not going to argue. Such a knee-jerk reaction might be unbecoming in Carrie’s eyes.

See, I’m beginning to sound as if I’m a broad. I realize if I wanted to be cured, a good start might be for me to drop the “broad word.” And I’m becoming vindictive. That’s OK, I’m cool with my feminine side.

But meanwhile, if ya wanna know how I got launched into the latest saga, here’s what happened.

*    *    *

There I was, a grown man, back in Hawaii with my girlfriend, a place where I belong, a place I should now be anchored. Here I am today with you, one year later, as a returning victim while in turmoil-filled Jersey.

I permitted things to settle a bit. But back in Hawaii my emotions still unraveled. I tried the norm. I broke down and wrote Mik a rambling, convoluted poem. Christ, I hope Carrie never gets wind of it. A few weeks pass. I no longer could contain myself. I called . . .

She seemed pleased to hear my voice, expressed, what sounded like sincere sentiments of how much she missed me, said further, in a tender sort of way, she still harbored feelings-feelings which that warmed parts of my body like a soothing ointment. Or maybe that’s the way I interpreted them.

The bitches are capable of doing that kind of stuff. Such talk had me driving around Maui with a smile on my face, for a day or so, but as life will have it, the phone line can’t provide all that’s needed and desired for a love-starved puppy dog. Soon enough I was blue for her.

I sent the Halloween card, and the flowers on her birthday, and presents for Christmas, and made the New Years Eve call, not bothering to ask her New Year’s Eve itinerary, where she’d be and with whom.

I’m going through the motions with sweet Jamie, but failing miserably.

I wonder how Carrie spent New Years?

I all but ignored sweet Jamie, a love muffin, who couldn’t do enough for me, who’s twenty-years my junior with oodles of energy, who had been with me for most-part of 5 years. One of which, when we lived in Spain, a time when I wrote my yet-to-be published Spanish thriller.

When I said, I ignored Jamie, I meant physically. We still cared and loved each other, never a terse word, always a kiss good night, always a sunny good morning. I don’t recall Jamie and I having a serious beef in five years.

My thoughts and yearnings for Mik back in New Jersey got the best of me, and stifled my love making with Jamie. I’m sure sweet Jamie sensed the chill, and I made excuses, about being unsure of myself, and about the repercussions regarding the fact my warped literature was virtually ignored, and about being older, and perhaps other red herrings about me slowing down.

I became elusive, reclusive and quiet. We didn’t visit friends, and I shared with her, about being disappointed, disappointed the book sales weren’t going well. Then there was the IRS! Well I haven’t brought up that part yet.

We made love once a month, maybe less. I continued to call Mik, and her favorite saying, “Hope Springs Eternal,” began making sense, and I thought how my life was slipping away, and there just might be the chance for happiness with this red head back in Jersey. Soon enough, the ‘I-miss-you babies’ were echoing back and forth, ‘how are we ever going to get back together again?’ I thirsted for an impromptu rendezvous.

She never spoke of my buddy, said, she hardly saw him, and when she did, it was by chance and not desire. Said, she missed me and wanted me and needed sex, ’cause she hadn’t sex with anyone other than herself, and I permitted myself to be mystified about the possibility she hadn’t had any sex since being filled with me.

So, as the East Coast finally warmed with the coming of Spring and because of my lack of attention, Jamie stopped coming directly home. I had to swallow hard ’cause I’m smart enough to realize a girl has to do what she has to do. And make no mistake about it I forced her.

Thinking it over, that’s something I’d never do to Carrie. I’d never ignore her. Once again, I threw ‘caution to the wind’ and I canceled my accounts, sold the beat-up car, liquidated my stuff for real pennies on a dollar. I had a straight talk with Jamie and said we had to break-up, I had to get away and be in search for a new start.

She’s so sweet, said she understood. She helped me. I tossed out the very suit I was married in, threw away my old Army uniform. Loyal Jamie continued to help through the send off, she insisted on keeping my military ribbons and insignias, her stripping them off the uniform’s jacket before I tossed it down the chute of my soon to be ex-condo’s trash receptacle.

I stashed keepsakes, such as my record-album collection and a few other sentimental pieces of furniture, parked them with friends and bought an airline ticket.

I embraced good friends, and bid the Aloha State aloha, hoping to some day return triumphantly on the bestsellers list.

Of course I discussed every aspect of my departure with Mik. She was curious about Jamie’s reaction?

I discussed my living arrangements. She offered her place. A special time she said, to be with her, a new start, without any incumbencies; no, furniture store, no, my buddy and his bitchy wife, perhaps a final chance to achieve love and have a place to write, a place to hide from the IRS and to have a carefree, blissful summer back with Mik on the South Jersey shore. Of course, that was before I started thinking about Carrie.

*    *    *

In the present.

So, if you’re still with me, I’ve walked now over two miles along the boards, above the beach and just a tad West of the Atlantic Ocean, a tranquil blue, advertising itself as my tomb when the morning comes, if things don’t pan out.

Away from the tranquil azure, I again focus on my destiny, I’m nearing where the devil himself lives. Oh, if you believe in the devil, he lives in the casinos all right. There he lurks, testing the fortitude of good men, tempting them, while brewing up fresh batches of low lives, ruining lives and breaking hearts.

Once I cross the threshold of the casino I must alter my demeanor. I must stand tall, take in deep breaths and remain in the present. To survive, I have to be razor sharp. I won’t open doors for anybody as I normally do.

There’s no referring to people pal or friend, no ‘thank yous’ to the cocktail waitresses, I’ll just plunk a tip their tray. Ya got to maintain a focused attitude when you’re fucking with the devil.

I’m only about two blocks away, somewhat tired from the long walk. It did me good. With my woes it was somewhat exhilarating,

During the earlier part of my walk I came to terms about the idea of Carrie, and while scurrying, I embraced such a fantasy and eased somewhat the frozen shock because of the way I’ve been treated by this Mik, and I was able for a time to get her off my confused mind.

In addition, I participated in well-needed exercise, not the exercise I imagined. With no exercise I’ve been cooped up in Mik’s apartment for three, horrible, awful, drive-ya-crazy days, going wild miffed about ‘what-could-have-happened?’

I sequestered myself inside her flat not wishing to deal with anybody. Despite the affront, I yearned for sightings of the twit of a woman who I foolishly came 6000-foolish miles for. In lieu of a happy reunion she deserted me and I hardly saw hide-nor-hair of her except when she dashed in to take a shower and then out again! We’ll go into that later.

Seeing the rest of my brethren moving about on the boards has inspired me to maybe start jogging or riding the bike, so if I do break the bank, I’d be in decent shape for Carrie. But then again, if things don’t click on the dice table tonight, I’ll be as good as dead by morning’s light.

Now don’t go worrying just yet! That’s only if the casino gets to me . . . If I nail them, Lou Christine’s finality might have to be put on hold, wait for just another miserable day.

*    *    *

Odds are I will not prevail. If you’re figuring odds, about a lout who is going to try and parley $6000 to $250,000, common sense dictates you to side with the house. With that thought, along with the knowledge of my seeing-it-through determination, I might be classified as a walking dead man. What wave of power has the force to move me off my mark, besides earning a substantial amount of cash?

*    *    *

Has the thought ran across your mind during this outpouring, that you’re with me, walking the boards and we’re here, side by side? While reading this lament you may have voiced inside your own heart, your own sentiments, about the issues. This is serious. I’m contemplating suicide!

Have you wished you could have interceded and perhaps talked somebody out of it the day before they’ve decided to commit suicide?

Maybe in the past you’ve been that close to voluntary death, while in the company of a person you never once suspected . . . you didn’t realize it was about to occur, if you had, you would have tried to intervene.

Such benevolent communications could have staved off the coming destruction. Perhaps by scoring one valid point, one containing thought-provoking merit and by showing compassion and sharing your own emotions, you may have been able to shed light on a problem out of control with the one who’s about to off themselves. With those pinpoint sentiments, there’s the possibility you may have soothed the potential victim and miraculously, they may have chosen not to pull it off.

Because it’s such a private volatile moment, and then if it had not occurred, you may not have known you were responsible for them not committing the dastardly deed.

Maybe, I shouldn’t be presumptuous. Perhaps you have used carefully-put and touchingly wise words and you may have sprinkled on an almost-lost soul, a ray of hope.

I once had such an opportunity.

It happened to me. Unbeknown, the subject of my helping-hand comments offed himself just after I dropped him off. (My way of thinking was that I acted as a good friend.) Despite me reaching out, he hung himself only hours later.

I once hosted a house party back in Hawaii. My friend was a big brooding guy, an alcoholic, disenchanted with his life. His demeanor

often revealed a mean streak, after a few drinks the streak erupted into cantankerous.

He permitted me to see a decent side of him. With me he shared his artistic nature. By him painting pretty scenes, he indicated a sincereness beneath the barbarous surface.

At the party he instigated a beef with a man who was also an invited guest. The potential blow up was peacefully squelched. My friend left the party abruptly, and because I was concerned, I went outside to find him.

I found him returning to my party, whirling an uprooted iron pole. He told me he was going to pulverize the guy. I talked sense into him, and volunteered to drive him home.

On the way home he says, he’s sorry. Says, the guy probably would have kicked his ass. He insisted, that when I returned to the party, to tell the guy he apologized, and surprisingly, he told me to convey to the guy that he loved him.

I pleaded for him not to hurt anybody, I dwelled on how he himself might become injured. I painted a ignominious picture, how shame and sadness would infiltrate his family, and there would be the distinct possibility of him rotting away in jail. Little did I realize, he was planning a murder . . . his own.

What more I could have said? Maybe if I would have extended myself, gone the extra mile and unearthed some altruism, and with me making sense, maybe the deed wouldn’t have materialized. The thought of missing a lifesaving opportunity haunts me til this day.

He was bitter, wrapped in his own misery, while being consumed in the flames of anger, desolate flames that fanned an inner-storm, perhaps similar to my present plight. So, he chose to eventually off himself, rather than take the life of somebody else.

Maybe, just maybe, because I didn’t extend myself, more so the same way I haven’t been honest with women, and because of my own lack of conviction and the non-deliverence of tough love, now he’s no more.

And maybe ’cause someone out there refuses to reach out to me, I’ll too will be a goner. I’ll tell you, down deep he was kind and never intended to hurt anybody, but like me, the sorriest aspect, he had no love. We’re back to that love thing again, and I’m back to thoughts of Jamie, and Mik, and Carrie, and the Hawaiian, girl, and way-way back, there was Diane when I was back in the Army, and how the hell do you leave out, Lauri, a wife for almost 19 years. Let’s leave her out for a while. My focus is on Mik. . . . No it’s not! My focus needs to be on Carrie

*    *    *

Ok, I’m nearing the casino. Gotta check myself out. Money in my right-hand pocket, about $60, throwaway money, which I’d gladly and    easily give up to anyone who decides to stick me up.

Five, one-hundred-dollar bills are wrapped around each other in my pant’s pocket. Approximately $5500, in Franklins sit under the soles of my bare feet, which are firmly tucked into a pair of Bally slip ons.

I halt myself and stand alone outside and look towards the ocean for a moment. Sea gulls are circling above, cawing, and taking mock dives at mirages on the boards. They’re honing their diving skills, taking practice runs to scoop up imaginary boardwalk discards.

In a few weeks those practice targets will manifest themselves, the same way I hope to manifest my world of Walter Mitty. The practice runs for those birds prepare them to scoop up heaping scraps of popcorn, whole frank fritters, cotton candy and whatever the summertime strollers might discard.

But with my forever-keen observation I notice how most of the flock hover. It seems they’re coyly situated. It’s as if they’re blatantly pointing their cawing beaks towards me.

I wonder, maybe the sons-of-bitches are specking out me. Them figuring the idea of me being served up as their next day’s breakfast. The feathery bastards are licking their whatever, summing, they’ll be picking at my washed up cadaver come the next dawn. The fucking Jonathan Livingstons!

I cringe about the morbid possibilities of my exposed eyeballs. I’ll be sure to have my eyes taped. My mind’s eye morbid vision of my eyeballs being pecked out and swallowed down by gulls dwarfs me with fear. That scene would be too yucky. With me taping my eyes, Carrie or her children’s eyes and ears should be spared such gory details; details that might ooze out through the media, about a despondent man found lifeless in the morning tide.

So, rather than focusing on a macabre fate I’ll just take a deep breath and walk towards destiny.

Wouldn’t it have been something if I really passed Carrie on the way, and I didn’t even know it?





The night before, after staggering in and passing out, Johnny Lombardi wasn’t able to peel himself off the couch. Wasted, fucked up, sharp pains shot engulfed his head as if it was being tightened by a vice.

He was plain lucky to have made it home safely. It was a feat in itself considering Johnny’s personal form of transportation while atop the precarious seat of a flimsy unicycle.

Reason being, for being on the unicycle, his New Jersey driving privileges were suspended two months before. Courts and further fines persuaded him to park the car while riding out the suspension and by peddling-his-ass around AC.

Back when he was eleven, Johnny’s mother went to a sporting-goods store and bought him a hard-to-ride unicycle. Johnny Lombardi would have preferred new football spikes, or at least a Wilson glove, but he knew his mom was screwy sometimes and he was schooled enough not to look a gift horse in the mouth.

His mother was a Boston Red Sox fan. Her team made it all the way to the World Series. Upon presenting her son the unicycle, Dorothy Lombardi coached, “Be like the Red Sox, and learn to overcome obstacles. Those things will make you a more-rounded person . . .”

Johnny’s mom’s only explanation about why she purchased the unicycle was that the Red Sox won the pennant!

The other kids insisted Johnny share. They tried to master the single-wheeled contraption but were quick to give up—not Johnny.

Nine years later, still burned into his boyhood memory were the strawberry-skinned contusions yet he got the gist of the one-wheeled bike.

If there’s anything about young Johnny Lombardi, he’s a determined young man. In time, he mastered the bike. Eventually he could wheel up-and-down steps to become the envy of the 8th grade mafia. The girls took notice.

The challenge, to overcome by employing the fear of falling and maintaining balance, a hurdle similar to events then occurring in Johnny’s life while becoming a proficient croupier on a craps table at Bally’s Grand.

Pressures mounted, along with getting along without a car, and then coexisting with his boss, and having to deal with drunken assholes who sulked about their loses.

Gamblers had a tendency to sometimes rattle the beforehand carefree lad.

Because of the suspension he was being reintroduced to the fear of falling, that fear at times almost froze him with the idea of losing his balance and being thrust into the midst of traffic.

Work too became a balancing act.

During his job at the casino he coped with dice chips and money, juggling all with absolute authority, nevertheless, sneaking peeks over his shoulder to read the fickle temperaments belonging to the various pit bosses.

While on the job it was necessary to remain proficient; to differentiate, to recognize wise guy players tossing money and spitting out bets. The gamblers see their risks as their ticket to ride, and as a free pass, to rattle Johnny’s case and to fuck with him, expecting Johnny to talk-the-talk and walk-the-walk.

Players were fueled by booze, greed and ruthlessness.

Johnny was learning how to ignore them; he spread the bets, watched the hands, eyeballed the dice, scooped the money, kept alert, used his dexterity, and boasted a sense of humor to be funny as shit and then not to forget to graciously thank people, wish them luck and act consolatory when they lost.

When losing cantankerous guys got pissed and went said stuff Johnny found difficult to swallow!

“Don’t walk the boards tonight, punk! Out there you’re my bitch! . . . ”

It wasn’t always so bad. Interesting people played the casino’s field of dreams and some were fertile-minded folks, good tippers win or lose.

Whether it be jostling between congested traffic or facing sweat-it-out card or dice situations down at work, Johnny was learning about life and working it out at balancing things.

He’d win some, lose some, nevertheless, fear was fear, fear works, it motivates.

With a sense of starting-over determination he aimed to slay what might be holding him back. The 20-year-old wielded spunk at the casino as he did on a single wheel.

Socially, the unicycle wasn’t the best mode of transportation for picking up girls without wheels. Still, young Johnny Lombardi moved with gusto on his unicycle wheeling down the boardwalk. He’ stand straight up spinning the bike like some rodeo cowboy. He rode evenly in reverse. And oh, how he zoomed, throwing caution to the wind, going fast, then standing, his head ducking to avoid overhanging store signs. Gloriously, as if performing a youthful right-of-passage, Johnny rode on with the ocean’s breeze flickering through his silky hair, with him sensing the rhythm, with the thump-thump-thumping drumming beneath on the boards. He leaned hard when turning corners and dealing with the uncharted.

When our young hero dealt craps (when not inhibited by the likes of ass hole Joe Rizzo or some other pit boss of a buffoon), he transformed himself into a genuine-dealing demon, like something recently hatched from a craps dealer farm.

At times he displayed a super sense of humor, a real card, mixing-it-up, skillfully, balancing-drunks, entertaining the Julius out of ‘out-of-towners,’ talking stuff and charming the women. Once unwrapped, especially when he hit his zone, Johnny Lombardi could be described as energy-on-the-brink, fucking scary, graceful, show casing just the tip of the iceberg for what had to be forthcoming dynamics.

Johnny was on his way to become a blossoming young man, teaming with life, eagerly sniffing at the world’s ass.

He was a then a familiar sight during the afternoons, pedaling across the boards draped in his casino work-shirt; a purple-and-white tunic, with the casino’s logo pasted on the back of it. His circus act attracted a fair amount of attention and plenty of three-ring smiles from googled-eyed girls.

*    *    *

That particular Saturday afternoon young Johnny Lombardi was far from being a high-wire act. Johnny was out of it. The night before was a doosey.

He recalled . . . he was with his buddy Brad and it hurt to remember, yet there were those two well-dressed couples sitting across the bar.

*    *    *

Despite the gold chains and cruise-ship garb, the couples looked more like shoebees. (Shoebees, that’s what Absecon Island locals call people such as ole Carl and Gloria and their gang.) People who come to the shore for just one day, carrying their lunch in a proverbial shoe box thus punctuating their cheapskate reputations amongst local merchants because they hardly spent money while in town.

His buddy Brad caught the eye of one of the married woman. Her husband didn’t pay attention to what were to become titillating goings on between his wife and Brad as he chatted away, engrossed in conversation with the other couple. The woman appeared lonely.

Brad recognized opportunity, and we should mention Johnny’s precocious buddy’s no slouch.

Brad flashed a sequence of concurrent prolonged stares. During those lookie-lookie interludes neither bothered to turn away. There were sneak smiles.

Brad even had the balls to plant his index finger into his mouth, then motion it seductively in-and-out, then he brazenly pointed his moist finger towards her but did so, only after taking a cautious glance so to freeze her husband’s image into a safe place, as an image not-paying-attention, yakking away and talking-story.

Brad, sneaky like, pointed his finger downward, towards his crotch.

That overt move brought on a far-out look from the aging face. The lonesome-looking woman sent back her own signal—a beckoning—doing so by lifting her sultry self off the bar stool, while never-once removing her eyes from Brad’s.

She continued to do so, with her head cocked in his direction, even as she passed by her yakking-away husband, and she drew Brad in with her enticing eyes. She showed her own bravado while she ran her fleeing hand across her husband’s bent-in conversation shoulders, a reassurance to hubby, ‘just going to use the ladies room, honey.’

The yakking-away man and the other couple hardly noticed. She headed towards the ladies room, adjacent to the bar’s side entrance, while looking back.

Brad told Johnny he’d be right back, said he was going to go get his pipes cleaned. Johnny presumed Brad was just going to take a leak.

The woman returned as casually as she departed. But then she appeared composed, calm. She appeared better looking; more energetic, moreso than the tired house wife Johnny earlier viewed across the bar.

Brad plopped himself back at Johnny’s side. “Christ, are you hip to what’s been going on?”

“No! What the fuck ya talking about?”

“See, that bitch over there?”

“Who? The one who just came back from the john?”

“John, shit! Less than two-minutes ago she was sucking my dick out in the parking lot! You haven’t noticed, while you’ve been talking casino talk to that asshole on your right, her and I have playing peek-a-boo for half an hour. I mean! Man! I didn’t have to say jack-shit, the chic went right for it! She got right down on her knees on the god damned gravel, right outside in the dark, up against the parking-lot’s wall!

“She’s crazy! Cars are going in and out the whole fucking time. Get this! She’s halfway through with this fantastic BJ—can’t remember having a better one—and then, now get this motherfucker: She sort of turns herself around, while she’s still gobbling the goop and the nerve of her then pulls down her panties, takes my dick out of her mouth, and says for me to wet my finger, tells me she wants me to jam it up her ass!”

“Whoa, dude! Whatya do?”

“Ho, she’s already sucking on my finger and then she’s looking right up at me, with this wild desire. Ho, buddy! Man! I rammed her good!

“Christ, you shoulda seen her. It was as if she went into some sort of frenzy; the bitch must get nothing at home . . . man, when I came, I thought I was going to blow her head right-the-fuck-off!

“Those older broads know how to do it. Man! She gobbled up that shit. And when it was over I just wanted to get the fuck outta there, but then with the strength of Samson or something, she held me there, asked if she could suck my balls.”

“What she do?”

“She does it! Does it like it’s never been done before, way better than Donna Gregario used to.

“Now get this, my man! I got her fucking numbers, both down here, and up in Philly, and listen to this, says her girlfriend, the one married to the other guy, says she loves to do the same shit. Says, they’ll sneak-away tomorrow night, ’cause their old men let ’em go to the casino by themselves. Says the husbands want to watch the hockey. Says, she’ll pay for a room at the Grand. After work, when you’re done your shift, you and I can do a tango with ’em. We’ll show them what fucking is all about!

“My man, Johnny, it looks like the beginning of another great summer . . . Johnny boy, the drinks are on me for the rest of the night.”

*    *    *

Well, that’s the last instance Johnny can remember, ’cause Brad proceeded to keep his word about bringing on the drinks and getting him fucked up.

He can’t remember what the hell happened to Brad? On the wobbly way home he almost lost balance a few times, pedaling back to his flat in Ventnor, and then he felt like shit.

Johnny finally became lucid when he noticed the handwritten note on the coffee table. The note was from, Candy, his girlfriend. “Waited here for you til 2:30 a.m., thought we had a date, and what about my parents wedding-anniversary party tonight, will you show after work?”


Johnny attempted to get up but could only moan. Moving as little as possible he strained and craned his neck to see the clock. It was already 1:30 p.m. “Shit!” he muttered. Even the muttering hurt. He had to be back at work by 3:00 p.m.

Ugh, pedal back to town . . . have to listen to the suckers bust his balls at the table. . . . Take shit from Joe Rizzo! . . . And then there’s the pressure from Candy, and the anniversary party!

He hadn’t yet to consider procuring an anniversary gift. He couldn’t fathom what to purchase for the two old people.

He just opened his sore eyes and faced what loomed as heavy-duty hurdles. And then! . . . God! . . . There was supposed to be the dirty rendezvous with those two, old-horny, married cunts.

Johnny laid back on the sofa, his handsome young Italian head pounded. The night before he threw caution to the wind and he just lifted his tasty glass and merrily poured down in epic proportions, one after another, in one, long, lazy, almost-choreographed routine.

He drank down that colored shit graciously paid for by horn-dog Brad. He took deep drags off of at least 18 butts, smoking the diggers like some sleazy character in a Mickey Spillane piece. Then he wolfed down something greasy. Johnny couldn’t identify the lingering ‘what-was-it’ taste. He had little sleep; his face was puffy.

Wasn’t it Aristotle? “Youth is wasted on the young.”

Despite the abuse, Johnny could have modeled for Calvin Klein that very afternoon. The likes of Lou Christine, Carl, Phil and Eddie Fisher may have given a left nut to’ve been blessed with the good looks belonging to Johnny Lombardi. If Richard Burton possessed such looks . . . Life roused. No matter how bad he felt the kid needed to set-forth his agenda.

“Funny,” the word, drifted into his thoughts and off his lips. A distraction from his hangover was a notion which he found perversely amusing. So far he had yet to meet broads who were chronically loose or perversely thinking women who desired objects jammed up their asses.

Johnny’s sexual side of curiosity revved its engines. He smiled, wondering about old broads who sought buckerooing and getting gooned up . . .

He heard of them. Working in a casino one eventually hears about every conceivable fetish but he hadn’t experienced many first hand.

The two coeds from Temple, up in Philly, yeah, they were something . . . eating each other out in front of he and Brad, just after they shot our wads in them.

Johnny reminisced about that particular wild night, massaging the horrendous hangover. . . . “That was fuckin’-A exciting!'” Johnny was coming to life. He’s began to sprout a semi hard-on.

He had whacked off to the time reminiscing when he and Brad banged those college girls, and he’d rerun the images of those two-wicked bodies of recent yesteryear. However, in the recent, recent he wasn’t bringing back the images of those two nymphs that often since he’d been seeing Candy.

Candy was a problem!

He was crazy about his present girlfriend. She was the very likes of the one he had always fantasized. He never suspected it would happen so quickly. He hadn’t expected to meet someone like Candy for five or six years.

Too much was happening! His fuckarama stock was on the rise. He recently turned 21. So far, he’d been laid twice-as-much as the previous summer, four-times more than the summer before. He began to ask, why?

His self-image seemed the same. Oh, he worked out, his torso was becoming more defined. He noticed his maturing, both mentally and physically, yet with some of the pranks he and Brad had recently pulled off . . . zanier and crazier than the weird stuff they got away with when high schoolers.

Like two months before, with those two-drunken bums over his place. The seducing duo decided to dress themselves up in their old, football uniforms, shoulder pads, helmets and all, while they screwed the girls with no shame. They speared each other with their helmets, as they tag-teamed their female tackling dummies.

He sure as hell didn’t feel all that more mature, no doubt though, it must have been happening.

Recently, he had an interesting conversation with a girl he hadn’t seen in four years, a chic from back in high school, a chic who put a thought-provoking spin on things after he banged her in the back of her mini-van, just outside Gables Bar.

She said there was something different about him, about his speech, as if it developed overnight and she said his voice had matured into a refined-sounding, special delivery. With a cute-teasing smile she said seductively, ‘it seemed as if both of his special deliveries were becoming a lot deeper!’ She teased, recalling bumps and bruises once received when wrestling with him in the back seats of cars at drive-ins, when they were in high school.

Starry eyed, in her own special way, maybe using the same tone as someone like Melanie Griffith, and while stooped over, trying to stand up in the back of the mini van, the girl said, wiggling and tugging up her panties, how it was apparent he slowed down his speech. With a scratchy voice, as she strapped herself back into her bra, yet she cooed, how his-then voice sounded so sexy, stating how the new-sounding baritone nature of it made her quiver, indicating she thought he was taking on a new demeanor, and said so as she buttoned up her shorts, saying he sounded aloof, like brooding types who are tough but-soft. She went so far as to elaborate that Johnny flashed movie-star qualities, same as James Dean or Brad Pitt.

After she finished talking and dressing Johnny removed her clothes.

Bitta-boom! Bitta-bang.

“Yeah,” with the sexual reminiscing going on, he began to feel better.

He had felt calmer. He could attribute it to the maturing at the job. He had money in his pocket, and moreso, he had become more tranquil since engaging Candy.

She: an absolute doll, knocked-out gorgeous, a junior at Stockton State College, in Pamona, just outside AC.

She just showed up. . . Candy didn’t lay him until the fifth date. He never bothered with chics if they didn’t put out after the second go around. However, Candy was different.

When she touched it was like being caressed by mink, a tingle and combined warmth that had him purring. And her laugh—soft, light, glorious! That body—-picture-perfect with the greatest-little-round ass this side of the Delaware. Her soft hair smelled so good, and even after drinking all night, when they awoke in each other’s arms, he couldn’t detect a trace of bad breath. Her dreamy pink pussy was closely shaven, except for a ribbon of golden angel hair about one-inch wide, a strip which ran the length of her oasis, a sweet-tasting, moist pussy, exclusively for him.

Kiddingly, because of her shaved genital area he referred to her as big-number one. At times, shortly after they suckled, caressed, and tenderly squeezed from each other their passions, Johnny would break the tension and he’d throw his voice somewhat, as if his announcement was blaring over a stadium’s intercom.

“And starting at, Quarterback, it’s #1, Candy Cosler! It’s Big-Number-One ladies and gentlemen, our favorite player!”

She’d slap at him and say “You . . . you!”

In reality, she loved it, pleased that his kidding and lovemaking tickled her fancy.

Christ, she was great!

Johnny placed her as the type of young lady he could escort to the Presidential Inauguration. Despite being young, she was smart as Dickens; she’d be able to discuss a host of subjects and hold her own with them old farts he bragged to Brad.

And she helped Johnny too, extensively with his English, and diction, did so in a nice sort-of-way. Told him explicitly, if he wanted to get ahead, one doesn’t say them things, but rather those things, and it wasn’t dis-or-dat, but this-and-that, and it wasn’t the zink but the sink.

She possessed a plethora of other terrific qualities. Only thing holding back our Johnny . . . like the rest of his breed, he yearned to whore. And what he really desired more than anything was to fuck a whole bunch of ’em before he gave himself up.

The major question in his mind—would he find another Candy later on?




I’m back. And I’m ready; ready as hell, primed, the engines are revving, yeah baby, I’m ready to throw caution to the wind!

I’m going to walk right in there into the den of Beelzebub, the lair of Lucifer, the slimed-ball’s wall-to-wall of evil, where the fuckin devil himself lives, and I’m going to fleece him, kick his ass in front of all his lackeys, and I’m going to do it, or I’m going to be a dead man. Ok. Ok, it’s now or never, big boy. You’ve come a long way baby, done a lot of things, but this is the big one. Say some heeb prayer for me, Carrie!

*    *    *

I’m the type of guy who insists upon being properly prepared. So far, you may not have perceived me as such.

Preparation stems from a fanatical desire. Hmm, desire. Colin Powell, the big-time general said something like: careful with your wishes, wants and desires that they just might manifest. And if those desires aren’t truly worthwhile, that’s when the real trouble begins.

Painfully, that reminds me of past times and events, like when I initiated my lurid affair with the Hawaiian girl, back 12-years ago, when I was 36.

Yeah, that was something, a sticky issue, a time I deceivingly prepared, connived and planned for, with me both the victim and the perpetrator, having me finally achieving my deepest, dark-side wishes. If I would have carefully monitored my inner self my mind would have heard the initial gurgling sounds of a toilet’s flush.

I was already married to this, Lauri, my wife then of 13 years.

I was pretty much on the up-and-up as a husband, I never desired a mistress, or made a date, flirted or anything like that. There were a few passing ships, could count them on one hand, them mostly occurring with my furniture buddy. He’d egg me on. But at the same time I’m guilty, I always have been, remember, I’m half Jewish, and my wishes and desires maintained a yearning, and boiled over with an urge to feel somebody different wiggling beneath me, or one frothing with passion while she was sprawled out on top, or maybe bent over backwards, or with us oohing and ahhing while looking at each other in a mirror with me, me, me deriving pleasure about the very lusty idea of it all.

I woke up one morning, after 13-years of marriage, and soberly elected to have an affair. But first, I had to prepare!

The target of my quest, a Hawaiian girl, who worked for me.

When I say Hawaiian, I mean the term in every sense of the word. Just looking at her had my jungle juices stirring and I was lured with the beckoning vibrations along with the torrid pounding of island drums!

She had long, straight, jet-black hair. Super-sized, black pupils sat cool and centered within her almond shaped eye sockets. There was a slight fold of the skin near the corners of those lookers and a good deal of soft space spread between those dynamite eyes. Such a face would have kept French painter, Gauguin up at night, and perhaps the artist with the penchant for Polynesian women would have made her his prime model. Smack in the middle of her exaggerated looks sat a wide-bodied, sexy nose, the centerpiece of her exotic looks. Not often, but when she decided to, she flashed a smile of Mona Lisa. Yeah, after deep thought, she became the focus of my desires.

She came to work for me at age 16. She had recently given birth to a little girl. No members within her close-knit family were aware of who the father was; she only said it was one of those tragedies, her first time, and she became pregnant.

She didn’t offer specific information ‘til years later. The first-two years she worked for me I acted more like an altar boy. She gave me her earnest, a damned-hard worker as she assisted both my wife and I in the day-to-day routine. Soon enough she honchoed the entire operation. She flirted with men, and I bet she still does. It’s more her way than being promiscuous.

Ya hafta know Hawaiians, they don’t possess hang ups about sexuality, as does the up-tighter segments of our so-called, sophisticated society.

Her demeanor: Warm, sensuous, and she showcased a sturdy body. She boasted beautiful, strong, brown hands. On the other extremities she had thick-beefy, brown, poi-pounding feet.

Despite being 18, her heritage forecast, if she didn’t watch it, she’d turn out to become what they call in the islands, a fat, titta, sentenced to an fashion existence wearing stretched-out muumuus or some-other good-sized parasols.

In fairness to this woman, I should tell you, today she’s thirty-years old, and is still strikingly beautiful. As many women of her breeding she did gain significant weight in her mid-twenties. Today she has narrowed down, dances hula and is a good mother and a fine person. We don’t talk much.

Yeah, back then I chose her to be the one. I sensed a mutual attraction. She respected me—me being the boss. On the home front, things became worse.

The dinner was no longer served but left on the counter and the wife, continued to harangue me about me being a dreamer.

I have a hunch Carrie loves dreamers.

I defended the dreams. If I weren’t a dreamer, we never would have made it to Hawaii—only a dreamer who was far from a model student, who barely squeezed out a high-school education . . . well that dreamer put her pseudo ass, in a half-million-dollar, Hawaiian home, on a picturesque hillside, with a hot-tub and a big, deep pool, an wonderful island home with a guest cottage, for the visiting in-laws, in from New Jersey. Further perks offered a priceless view of the picturesque pristine Pacific, and a brilliant vista of other outer islands that showed themselves in the offing as a mirrored image of Maui.

It was breathtaking and a sense of comfort to look out from that magic home with the other islands majestically sitting out there.

This ass-hole dreamer paid for the whole shebang, the private schools, cars, artwork, exotic vacations—you get the picture.

She began to detest football. She ridiculed my old-time buddies. She said cruel things about them after they’d leave.

If my buddies showed up at the welcome mat, she’d go and hide into the bedroom, slam the door, probably sulk and stay there. She loathed pot. She blamed my consumption for not-giving us a baby.

She didn’t take into account, that back in Pennsylvania I went ahead and had my testicles cut for the bitch; one of those varicose-seal operations, did so just after some jerk-off dick doctor recommended                                      1

such a mutilation, and he did so with a smirk. He suggested the operation after peering through a microscope, and said in a condescending manner, my sperm count wasn’t up to par.

Nothing seemed to work. She couldn’t get pregnant. We tried everything. Without a hint of foreplay, we’d hop to it when her body temperature was just right, no matter if it were on the kitchen floor or on the side of the road when driving home from K-Mart. She walked around half the time with a thermometer protruding from her mouth. I even had to go and whack off, or get her to do it for me, and then run the net proceeds down to some sterility clinic, feeling like a smacked-ass trudging in with a vile full of cum.

I helped raised our boy as my own. He’s somebody I first met when he was 10-months old. The marriage became a package deal. I adopted him. Today he’s a great man. Gonna be a father this year! Me, a grandfather! We both embrace what I believe is a firm and honest relationship.

On the other hand, when bitching about the ex, I have to give her credit, she molded him.

It always has been a mystery to me how quickly women turn.

When my wife and I first met, she was well aware about who she was running around with someone who was a smoking, gambling, stay-out, who loved sports. (I’m no longer like that Carrie.)

For a crazy reason, rather than luring in some scientist, or a librarian, or an ice-skater, or maybe a male ballerina, the kind of men who appealed to her—or even a fucking plumber—she chose me!

Examples: She surely could have reeled into her lair legions of suitors, with her then-flowing, blonde hair, and delectable, uplifted ass . . . Still, she chose me?

The then aggressive young buck was looking to be anchored. I was swept away by a beautiful, bright, young woman, sexually liberated, with a ready-made family.

Or maybe I didn’t want that kid attending any of those Cub Scout outings without a dad’s hand to hold onto. Hey, as I said, it was a package deal, with a slew of sterling aspects coinciding with the deal. It wasn’t all hell.

Now, today, I don’t wish to burden that boy with my sorry-assed woes; he isn’t even aware that I departed Hawaii. He’s in his mid-twenties and lives in Kentucky with his bride. I hope he’s not devastated if the worse happens! He understands me, he’ll be able to deal with the circumstances pragmatically.

Yeah, back then, when I’d been married to this, Lauri, I chose the Hawaiian one. We began taking notice. I swear, in the two years prior to our thing, I never once voiced anything off-color, nothing provocative. But, as my married relationship became more distant, those tom-toms began whipping up the juices and those enticing sounds drummed closer.

I called the shop on the phone the way I normally did, so to check things out—my female employee answered. She’d give me my messages and continued to update me about the goings on.

“What else ya got for me?” I’d spout; a redundant saying, me wanting info quick, so I could get off the line. One particular time when I spouted, “What else ya got for me?” I swear, I heard a low-voice mumble the word, “Me!” I said, “What?” She said, “Oh, . . . nothing.” If it was true or not, the question and supposed answer fitted themselves together. I then sparked a flicker of a fantasy!

Months later, I throw an employee-Christmas party on the beach. Everybody’s there: My wife, my son’s sixteen, the girl is present, two crews attended, ’cause by then we were running two joints.

Everybody brings luau food, potluck style. We cut up fresh-caught Ahi. Then we wolfed down the Ahi in the form of carved sashimi using chopsticks, after we swirled the raw fish in a puddle of soy sauce and wasabi. (a smooth, textured, green-Oriental, horse radish.)

Some brothers with ukuleles showed up and played Hawaiian music.

Now, I’ll tell ya, only because I mentioned it, there’s an awful lot to Hawaiian music! After I’m dead, and then when my writings are famous, (Ha). . . ya might want to pick up some of my Hawaiian stuff. Within those writings, there are passages where I’ve tried to expound on Hawaiian music. It’s haunting and moving and I’m stirred getting goose bumps often when listening to those sweet tunes composed and sung from the heart, or, as they say in the Islands, ‘I wen’ get ‘chicken skin’ brah.’

It was a great day. We played football on the beach and I got a little drunk. With me feeling spunky and playful, my employees locked my arms behind me and dragged my ass down to the ocean for a throw-the-boss-in dunk. I was a hell of a sport, shit, I loved it and loved everybody, except maybe my wife.

By sunset the wife became bored. She didn’t get along with the kids and thought they were mindless. She wondered aloud what I was going to do and how much longer I wanted to stay around the party, plus she was forced to hang in there a bit longer ’cause we’re about to open our Pollyanna presents.

We witnessed one of those postcard brilliant sunsets. A religious person, may have felt so moved by the sunset and may have even contemplated building a temple on the spot and praise God, the Lord, or whatever for putting together such glorious vision sinking into the horizon.

In concert the sinking sun’s reflection with the waning light shimmered off the sleepy looking faces of the mountains. Green peaks took on a purplish hue. The clouds whiteness, altered by the light, turned to puffs of terra cotta, and pink a to deep magenta, parlayed by the light while matching the green landscape and blue sky into a magnificent mural of full spectrum colors.

After the toned-down time, us, then somewhat dazed sun worshipers broke from the symbolic ceremony and began ripping away at wrapping paper. I leaned up against a car with a beer and was engrossed in the spirit of things, then she, the chosen one, began to slowly situate herself closer, slivering towards me. She made pitstops offering idle talk to others.

She stopped directly next to me.

She leaned against the car, same as me.

Despite no sense of touch, I felt the electricity sparking off her folded arms, arms-folded same as mine just inches apart.

Out of the blue she said, “What are you thinking about?”

Without reservation, without embarrassment or the idea being rebuffed or being out of character and in such a way that Carrie would be proud of I replied, “To tell you the truth, Paddy, I’ve been thinking about what it’s like making love to you!”

*    *    *

She had never been off Maui, knew mostly about nothing, thought a car’s heater worked without the engine running, but her eyes seemed    centuries old, deeming her a sage, and she knew well-enough about the fire-down-under and all the mumbo-jumbo and dilly-dallying that’s been going on between men and women since the fucking-beginning of time.

With those eyes, peepers that could have belonged to Mother Earth herself, she peered straight into mine and she spoke with the voice of Lauren Bacall or Ingrid Bergman, you pick one—she put systems on go and in a defining moment replied with words of encouragement, revealing her own inner thoughts and she voiced, “At least we’re talking about it.”

My wife’s had enough, deciding to return back home with my son. Told me to go ahead and party with my employees. She implied she could give two shits when I returned.

Not another word was said between the girl and I during the remainder of the party. It wasn’t ‘til the crew and I loaded up every case of leftover beer, and the beach chairs, the grill, and cleaned up the trash, and it wasn’t until everybody packed up and left in separate directions; it wasn’t until then, when I walked up to her car and the driver’s side where she patiently sat, and perhaps plotted.

In silence I just placed my giddy head inside the car’s window and planted a big one on her thick, full and then hungry-for-me, Hawaiian lips. It felt so fucking good!

She and her budding youth and her giving mouth and her aroused strength, and her flowing passion, felt so fucking good!

And Goddamn it, we went and did it, on a blanket under a palm tree, fanned by the gentle-warm breezes coming off the pounding ocean, and it was as if I languished in a delectable dream, and she glistened in the dark, stark naked, except for a sweet-smelling gardenia planted in her hair, one she picked fresh on the way.

We swam in the ocean, I didn’t give a shit about sharks, rather, I savored the star-filled sky. It was December, and as years have passed I’ve wondered how many other men have been fortunate enough to have ever had such a moment.

*    *    *

Before saying aloha, she expressed how I was exclusively her’s, she said so in a punctuated way. Her words exactly: “Anywhere, anyplace, anytime!” She said further in a forthright manner that she wildly desired to do it all. Said she viewed porno flicks with her boyfriend but he was too selfish and macho and she was breaking up with him. Said she admired Lauri, but sensed I wasn’t a happy, said she didn’t care for the way my wife treated me. Then, while taking a bolder step, she wasn’t going to permit the state of my domestic situation as to hold back our desires. We wuz in love!

Six months of cheating began on my part. I never lied so often, even in the furniture business. Affairs are awful. And they make us such . . .

Eventually I was found out, only after sneaking around Maui in cowboy hats and other ridiculous disguises, ’cause it’s such a small-town atmosphere.

We used to hang out at gay bars. There we both maintained our anonymity. We could slow dance while surrounded by a bunch of hugging Bruces and Geralds, as Madonna belted out a mushy ballad on the jukebox inside the fruit bar.

Once we snuck away for a fuckarama weekend in Honolulu, her first time on an airplane. We traveled separately, with me first to depart Maui, as to procure the car and a room.

So, there I was swaggering around, with my teenager in the big city, pretending I’m a big deal, a goofy-looking, bald guy, prancing around Honolulu with a kid on his arm. We even made a scene.

Back on Maui I was always the one in total control, ya know the boss, the big toad in a small pond who seemed to have a wise guy answer for everything. So, we’re in the hotel in Honolulu. I smoke a big joint just before we’re to go out to a steak house, where the Japanese guy chops all the stuff up on the grill right before ya.

I’m disoriented ’cause I’m completely stoned. Driving was difficult. I jumped the curb outside the steak house mistaking the spot for valet parking. That wasn’t the restaurant’s M.O. I freaked everybody out by driving up on the pavement, just inches away from the restaurant’s doorway. People coming to-and-fro were squeezing themselves around the rental’s front-and-rear quarter panels. The departing and arriving patrons were catching their clothes on the edges of headlights and bumpers.

I was so loaded I could hardly get out of the car. The valet guys picked up on my drift and they didn’t seem to appreciate the haole guy with the glued to him local chic, half his age. Plus I was reeking with the aroma of burnt herb. When we were thrust inside we were herded with the rest of the incoming pack, smack in front of the hostess’ stand. I was so ishkabible. I could hardly speak, still disoriented, still fumbling.

The sizing-us-up hostess said we had to wait. I stumbled to sit on one of the benches, set up like pews. There we flopped to wait for a table. The place was crowded with vacationers.

The sight of me losing my wherewithal must have been a turn on. I mean, the kid’s all over me inside the restaurant. She straddling my lap face to face while I sat straight up, then she giggled and revealed she never witnessed me in such a state, doing so while kissing my face and forehead. She professed how she loved me, and was doing other naughty things with her hands, and then rubbing her delectable self against me in such a way. Such actions had faces blushing.

Parents pulled their children towards them, to face them away. ‘Fuck ’em!’ ran across my mind. I was throwing caution to the wind and living life.

Yeah, I prepared for that one alright. Almost lost my marriage, pissed some people off, let others down. Lost my own innocence. Up to that point, I had pretty much been a standup cat during most of my adult life. A sergeant in the Army, a father, an athletic coach, a good business man, joined the Jaycees, worked for George McGovern’s presidential campaign. I was what I believed a Carrie-type of guy.

*    *    *

So, now I’m prepared, I’ve sucked it up and am ready to begin my quest, kick the process in gear, and to go right in there and dip into the devil’s pocket.

This is how I work it. I never start gambling immediately, never. Ya can’t be in too much of a hurry when you’re going to have to deal with the devil. Ya gotta ease in.

First I’ll walk around, check out the black jack. Then I further cruise, stop and catalog the most-frequent numbers coming up on the roulette wheel. I might have a couple of drinks up at the bar, even pay for them, cause the drinks are usually gratis when you gamble. I want to muster up a little courage. I prefer to feel razor sharp when I’m about to fuck around with the devil, doing so to maintain a keen sense of the present.

*    *    *

When the dice shake around inside the roller’s hand, I begin my focus, by targeting the dice as soon as they depart the roller’s hand, as they are shot through the smoky air. My focus stays with them as they slam the inside wall of the table. Vicariously perhaps, I place myself inside those dice, the same way I used to playfully plant myself inside those giant-sized, discarded, appliance boxes back when I was a kid. And I tumble along inside them, doing so symbolically and I try to adjust the tumble, so when tumbled pieces of hard-red plastic settle, they’ll boast my winning combination.

I’ve studied people over the years. I figure there’s a magic, some are able to manifest. I’ve paid attention to a lot of baseball and basketball players.

Let’s talk about Pete Rose and Magic Johnson, the baseball player and the basketball player. I can’t measure your knowledge of sports, but those two guys created an aura.

Pete Rose got on base by hook or by crook. On base he became an itch, an annoyance, a distraction. The opposing players couldn’t keep their focus off him.

The opposing pitcher was unable concentrate on the batter. The shortstop felt obliged to inch over towards second. If Pete’s on, there’s a good chance there might be a hit-and-run play in store. The shortstop then leaves a wider gap between he and the third base, putting pressure on the 3-bagger, who then had to cover more distance.

The other team’s manager scratches the back of his neck. And the base-guarding first baseman, rather than playing tricks, or trying to make a play to pick him off, instead, would be in awe to have a golden opportunity to hobnob with the all-star while he was right there next to him.

And when the action continued, Rose barreled around the bases with reckless abandon. And yes, the hot dog in him dictated he’d slide into third-base, head first, and he slid more often than plays called for, but so what? It was Rose’s raw grit and the undeniable determination of a winner that made him a winner.

And what about Magic Johnson? (Ya got the time? . . . If not skip a few paragraphs, you paid for it.) There’s a black man, a basketball player who never bothered to master the technique that goes along with shooting a jump shot.

Imagine, the jump shot, the basic shot in basketball, a loft never perfected by the future hall of famer. To this day Magic doesn’t have one as part of his repartee.

In lieu of a jump shot, Magic possessed a mightier weapon, an intangible. After he let his patented jump hook go, it was as if ole Magic willed the ball right into the open basket.

The ugly looking launch arced, reached the target, bounced or rattled around the rim, and then like magic, go kaplunk, 2, maybe 3 points. Even his most desperate shots during crucial times banked off the backboard—50 footers—swish!

*    *    *

I decided to have a drink before spending time on the casino’s floor and non voluntarily my thoughts drifted back to Mik.

What the fuck? What happened? We talked all those months. Two weeks before I told her how I’m giving up everything, leaving Jamie for her and we should be together by Memorial Day Weekend.

She said, “Great! I’m off all weekend. I’ve thought of you so much! I can’t wait! I love you!””

An old pal picked me up in Philly, and drove me to the seashore. She said enthusiastically over the phone that she was staying at the same place, the apartment I helped her move into when her divorce was finalized, and she gave up her home.

Her reception . . . not overwhelming. There was no magnificent embrace for a returning lover like wrapping herself around me. I didn’t sense the earnestness.

At first, I supposed we’d ease into it. So, I unpacked. She remained hyper, spewing about her current woes and financial problems. Like I haven’t had any. I don’t think Carrie would dump that shit on me after 20-anxious hours and 6000 miles of uncomfortable traveling.

I quickly became tired hearing of it, and began to become pissed, but something held me back, maybe fear of an impromptu rejection. I didn’t complain. Instead I said, “Look, I gotta get some sleep. My hip is killing me from the flights. Didn’t get much shut-eye. I’ll see ya in a couple of hours.”

When I awoke, one of her girlfriends was over, a nice girl, whose acquaintance I made the previous year. I came out of the bedroom, the three of us small talked, and while that was going on, somebody came to the door. I didn’t know who it was, only that it was a guy.

Mik bolted to her feet, next thing ya know she’s gone, without a word. The girl stayed awhile, and then awkwardly excused herself, saying she’s gone for more beer. That was about 9:00 p.m.

Mik staggered back at 2:30 a.m.

Some welcome.

Oh, she’s drunk and just plopped into the bed and passed out. Carrie would never pull that kind of shit on her hero. Neither would Jamie, or any bitch I can remember ever having a thing with. I swallowed hard and tried to make the best of it. I leaned over, just to give her a kiss, and suddenly she woke and freaked, “What are you doing?”

“Nothing honey, just giving you a good night kiss.”

I’m no milquetoast, but then I believed was not the best particular time. I said, “We’ll talk in the morning.”

When I awoke, she was gone. She left a note. I waited around all day, surely disturbed about the night before. She zoomed into her flat at around 7, said she was in a blitz, said she had to take a shower, asked what were my plans, making it obvious not to count on her. Said she’s going to a barbecue, no invite came towards me. I remained miffed?

This awkward incident and weird circumstances of events brought back distant memories and reminded me of a story told to me my boyhood mentor: Louie Zerillo.

*    *    *

Louie was a unique, charismatic character. I met him when I was about 13, when he was in the midst of refurbishing a nearby home, on a street corner where I used to hang out.

Louie was sharp. Because of his intuition, he befriend us kids. He figured in Louie-Zerillo fashion, to make an alliance. You see, he’d have to knock out the front wall. The downstairs would be open to outsiders for weeks. Well, since we hung on the corner for all hours . . .

He enlisted me at first as a sidekick, to do chores for 50-cents an hour. His day job–a furniture repairman. In the summer, rather than wasting my life away on a street corner, I’d ride shot gun with Louie..

By the time I was fifteen I was chauffeuring him, so to complete his furniture-service stops. Said, he hated to drive anymore. Said, driving had become nerve racking with the high traffic and all.

At fifteen I possessed no valid drivers license. Louie paid little mind, no need for foolish formalities he said—referred to me as a capable young man. When we worked on the refurbishing of the house, he used to pour me straight shots of what he called “surefire belts.” Maybe we took one blast of J & B Scotch an hour. I can almost recall the warmth on the insides brought on by those surefire belts. I smoked his Lucky Strike. He footed the meal tabs. “Have another piece of pie, Louie,” he’d say.

I recall his favorite saying, “Fuck ‘em in the ass!”

“Fuck ‘em in the ass. Fuck ‘em in the ass six times Louie! See if I care!” Then he’d laugh and laugh and laugh.

He called me Louie, a nickname I’ve taken exception to. Bear in mind: My Lucky-Strike smoking, J&B drinking, tired-of-driving mentor’s name was Louie also, and he preferred its sound. I permitted it to slide.

He delighted me with rich, colorful stories jam packed with the essence of youth and life.

Painting a vivid picture he’d tell me kick-the-Japs-off-the-end-of-your-bayonet stories, tales about heroics and chance, when he served in the South Pacific during W.W.II. They were solidly told and chockfull of excitement. He gave me a rip-roaring account about a bare-fisted, drag-out fight with the company brute, Corporal Connors, and how they rumbled in a marathon slugfest like mad dogs after two days of round-the-clock combat.

With his eyes getting bigger, Louie played out the scuffle, him shadow boxing, rearing back in my presence with both fists clenched, then demonstrating exclusively for me, how he landed a hay maker and he spoke how he went on to be revered by his company for whooping the ass of the feared one.

When I hit 17, I was madly in lust with my teenage girlfriend Diane. Louie would lend me his four-door Buick. Diane and I used the back seat as a steamy-love chamber.

One morning I picked him up. It was apparent he the ‘old-lady,’ . . . that’s what he called her; it became apparent that he and the wife must have had an argument.

Louie plopped his girth in the passenger’s seat, lit a Lucky, let out a sigh, and then in a not so nice manner barked-off orders, including what direction to drive in. He stayed quiet awhile. I sensed the tension.

He broke the silence. “Louie!”

Him barking, ‘Louie,’ in such a way was a clear signal, it would be a “Louie discussion.” He’d do the lion’s share of the talking.

“Louie my young man sometimes ya just gotta throw caution to the wind!

“Now, listen to me. I’m going to tell you exactly what you do. Pay attention, ‘cause when the moment comes, you be ready!”

Before I had a chance to say something he began another paragraph.

“I tell you what you do. Ya get yourself a beautiful bride and ya plan a bombastic wedding.”

Louie whistled. Slowly and deliberately he let out a long blow, exhausting his wind supply. “Ya throw a blast with all the trimmings. Ya have handsome ushers and ya insist on big-titted brides’ maids . . .”

He whistled again, “Ya reserve a fucking hall. Ya look like a Greek God in your rented tuxedo, and ya dance away the night, have a blast. Ya don’t leave the party either, like lots of them schmucks do. Ya make every body stay. Pay the door guy an extra 300 bananas. At dawn ya go to the diner with your pals and your new bride. Ya have two cups of coffee, shake hands and then hug your gumbas goodbye. Then you-and-your bride and drive off to AC. Ya spring for the honeymoon suite. OK. Got it so far, Louie?

“Once you’re up in the suite, ya tip the bell boy. As soon as he’s out the door ya say, ‘Oh, honey, look I’ll be right back, I forgot to pick up a pack of butts.’

“So, this is what you do . . . I’ll tell ya what ya do, no madder how crazy it sounds . . . ya stay away for 24-hours! . . . I mean it! The whole fucking night, and ya don’t go back no-madder how much you’re tempted!

“When you return in the morning, you’re gonna find your new bride in tears. She’s gonna tell ya she’s been frantic; worried sick, she’ll say how she’s called the cops, all the hospitals, members of your family, she’s been crazy with worry!”

Louie shifted position. He turned and leaned his back up against the passenger’s side door, while we cruised at 50 m.p.h. With one hand he wagged his index finger and in the other he waved his Lucky. For the sake of drama, before uttering another word, he spit an errant piece of tobacco off his bottom lip. It landed on my pant leg. He continued. “First thing ya say is that you love her. Say, that while you were walking through the hotel’s lobby, you know, while getting the smokes, ya ran across an old buddy. Tell her ya can’t go into details right then, but your buddy had a problem. Tell her you two go waaaay back and for buddyism, ya had no choice and it was a major deal, and you just had to help. There was no time to call.

“Now, Louie, this girl will believe ya, ‘cause she’s your new bride. Don’t forget she loves ya. She’ll be thrilled you’re back. Don’t worry she’ll come around. Now, listen to me! The instant she softens up . . .”

Louie made a cracking sound as he slapped the backside of his right hand against his left palm, knocking the long ash off the end of his cigarette. “Ya say, ‘Honey, look, I just have one thing to clean up. It will only take five minutes. I’ll be right back I swear. Don’t concern yourself, sugar plum!’”

I turned to give my mentor a look. He had a intent expression on his face. Icky sounds stirred from the insides of Louie’s Italian nostrils. There was some idle salivating and Louie waited a few beats; as if indicating he was curious to hear my reaction.

I kept mum.

Finished with the nasal routine and hearing not a peep from me he delivered the upshot. “Then, Louis, like the courageous son-of-a-bitch that I know you are, ya stay away another 24 hours!”

I stayed stunned.

As if he was telling the story to himself and as if he was having the time of his life, he continued.

“Ya know why ya pull off such a stunt Louie?”

He was on the verge of hysterics as he rocked and belly laughed. With absolute conviction, Then he sprung himself towards me, “Cause, Louie, if that fucking bitch is still there the second time. . . well then, buddy boy, she’s fuckin well-worth keeping! . . And as for the rest . . . Fuck ‘em in the ass! Fuck ‘em in the ass six times!”

*    *    *

In my view it was the most bizarre bad-sounding idea that had ever come flipping off Louie’s lips. As years have passed I’ve rehashed the outrageous suggestion a few times for my-own sake. I have to say, little-by-little, its all began to make prudent sense.

*    *    *

I’m thinking, maybe this Mik is giving me the Louie Zerillo test?

We’re asking an awful lot here, but then, weren’t we asking much, for a guy, a fuckin asshole dreamer to come all the way from Hawaii, to shatter his life in search of a new beginning. And he did it and it’s as if in all these years I’ve come full circle and here I am thinking about boyhood stories, and that the circumstances have presented themselves in such a weirdo manner that we have to go back to the Louie Zerillo story to boot!

I’ve been in fixes before. (And I do wish to keep the plot going gang, despite breaking the fourth wall and coming off the page now and then to address you, but) (if the opportunity presents itself and I’m still alive, I’ll point out in detail those fixes latter.) But here I am—I’m stuck, with no car, not a friend in the world in this neck of the woods. My old-furniture buddy and I don’t talk after he stiffed me out of what he owed, and after his wife procured a police-restraining order to keep me out of the store. That’s another story.

The forecast is lonelyville. Am I the biggest sucker who ever came down the pike or what?

What the fucks going on? That’s all I can say to myself. There’s gotta be another guy. What else?

*    *    *

So there I was with no home, on my own for three lonely, lonely, lonely days; my only solace surfaced when I began to bleed my heart and pen while composing this piece!

I believed I received a sobering, this-is-the-way-it-is message from the bum Mik, and I just had to get out of there. Again, I thought of myself as stuck with no car, I could have rented one but where do I go? I didn’t feel like secluding myself in a summer resort at some bar, sitting miserably alone, peeling the labels off the beer bottles while blue. I would have smoked a pack of cigarettes.

*    *    *

I already can feel the tumors growing in my lungs and if the gulls don’t get me in the morning sooner or later my bad habit will. I haven’t eaten in three days; food’s not appealing right now.

Then I got the IRS problem: $84,000. They insisted I square away with them pronto. That was two months ago. The interest is piling up each day, the way the national debt skyrockets. The letters they send me warn that they are willing to ruin my life. The State of Hawaii is looking for $17,000. I’m in trouble. Nobody loves me. Jamie’s probably has forgotten me already.

Nobody! There’s nobody left and I mean not a single soul except maybe, Carrie, and that’s only if a rare chance presents itself.

So, fuck it and fuck them, and fuck the book distributor who did a piss-poor job distributing my book, and fuck the publishers who rejected my manuscripts, and fuck the cock-sucking agents who don’t return my calls, and fuck the people who scoffed, and those who don’t think a kid off the streets of Philadelphia has anything compelling to write about other than his mundane, sorry-assed life.

I’ll show ’em! I’ll win enough to pay my debts, clear up other entanglements, and take a vacation, and then think about how I’m going to win Carrie.

If I don’t come through tonight it will be easy. It will be a cake-walk, easy as pie it will be to halt this rancidness. It will be my grand opera, my Shakespearean tragedy, and mine alone.

I’ll gather my composure as best as possible and promise I won’t pussy out or quiver, as I stand by the ocean’s edge, lamenting over what I’ve never attained. I’ve had more disasters and more blessings than most men. Fuck, I’ve had a good life. I’m solely disenchanted from the in-between bullshit.

I wish Dr. Jack Kavorkian would drive in from Michigan and walk down to the breakwater with me to keep me company for the final moments, but there’s no time.

I’ll buy some Johnson and Johnson tape in the notion store to place over my eyes. I’ll walk to the ocean’s edge, place the tape over my eyes. I’ll just stroll on in, and become another victim of the centerpiece.

Poppy Morgan back in Hawaii speaks about being a victim of the centerpiece, that’s what he calls people, victims going down the drain. Poppy paints a history of various losers, how he or she were just another victim, another victim, no-longer willing to balance it out . . . no-longer willing to wait . . . no-longer willing to be let down, who despise the idea of continuing, continuing living within the narrow confines and emptiness of one’s miserable mind.

*    *    *

Ok., ok. I’m set. I’m ready to face destiny. Let’s hit some roulette numbers, let’s roll some bones! I’m ready to kick ass and take numbers, take no prisoners! I’m going to fuck up the devil. Where the fuck’s that Rocky music?




Louis Virgo rented four side-by-side rooms in a small motel, one block up the street from the Bally’s Grand. He occupied one of the rooms by himself. Sequestered inside two of the other rooms were four of his associates. The fourth was not occupied but weapons were stored in it.

He squeezed a hundred dollar bill into the hand of the maid, told her not to disturb him and asked when was her day off. She said, she worked seven days a week. He pressed another fifty into her palm.

He and his associates didn’t associate. They’re foreign; two Spanish, two Italian. Other than covertly scouting around and grabbing eats they mostly remained inside their rooms. The two Spaniards belonged to the notorious ETA (Homeland and Freedom), Basque separatists who have been fighting against the centralized Madrid government for centuries. They had slipped inside America, via Montreal, two weeks before. The two others belonged to the Sicilian Mafia; they normally worked in a pizza place up in Brooklyn.

They’d been there three days. In independent fashion, they went about their business, casing their target, especially scrutinizing the cash cage at Bally’s Grand.

They didn’t necessarily have to see the cage beforehand. Virgo, the independent operator possessed the layout.

Never arrested, born in Port au Prince Haiti, Louis Virgo was the offspring of a powerful, mysterious family that wielded enormous power and towering wealth. He earned his medical doctorate at seventeen—went on to be a Rhodes scholar at Oxford, then on to the Unites States Military Academy, at West Point. Served in Vietnam as a made man to be embraced by a macabre sinister organization made up of crooked-military officers; turncoats who sabotaged and arranged for the high-jacking of precious military equipment; an underground syndicate which fenced the stolen goods internationally to the highest bidder.

He had been sought after for years; wanted for various deeds by at least seven countries. INTROPOL kept a thick file, so did the FBI, the CIA, the KGB and especially the Masai. He orchestrated some of the most sensational terrorist exploits filling the headlines of newspapers worldwide.

His was highly suspected for his involvement in the Pan Am crash over Lockerbee. He rubbed out Italian prosecutors, FBI men, and wayward mafia dons. He maintained a strong affiliation with those who cultivated the poppy fields in Thailand, and kept the link greased and humming all the way to the Marseille heroin connection.

He owned secluded untraceable properties round the world. He precisely spoke in five languages, and could get by lipping half-a-dozen others.

He’s fiftyish, not one to be toyed with. Virgo’s a weapons and explosive expert; he’d be able to cripple a man with one-or-two well-placed blows. Don’t fuck with Louis Virgo. He’s cruel.                             *    *    *

One such instance pumping from his ruthlessness surfaced while attending a dinner with fellow Army officers. On the eve of his and their departure for Vietnam, Virgo went along at the invitation and persistent insistence of the four other men. Together they attended a two-week course at the Army’s foreign-language school in San Francisco, at Presidio. The speech lessons were standard-operating procedure so to familiarize all officers shipping out to Nam with basic knowledge of Vietnamese. During the dinner the officers became drunk, except for Virgo.

The insignia on his lapel indicated he was attached to that old oxymoron, Military Intelligence. Therefore, the insignia masked knowledge about his medical background. Naturally, the mysterious Virgo did not reveal himself or his medical training.

During the dinner, one drunken officer rubbed Virgo the wrong way. The precocious OCS (Officer Candidate School) infantry captain, who wore an air born insignia and another substantiating he was ranger trained, and was one who showed himself as very gung-ho. The captain razzed Virgo about his West Point training, in a not-so-nice way. While drinking Scotch, the man poked fun at the corps of cadets, referring to them as a bunch of silver-spooned, pabulum-fed, tin soldiers.

“Why you can have the whole fucking lot . . . that pompous-ass, McAuthur, big-mouth, Patton, and that boy-scout, Westmoreland . . . the whole-fuckin lot were and are, no more than a bunch of candy-assed faggots!

“And by the time they’re through with you (referring to Virgo) you’ll turn out just like the-fuckin’ rest.!”

Insulting Virgo marked the captain. The captain had no idea about Virgo’s connections. It didn’t matter. Virgo and the man exchanged words.

After a few uneasy moments Virgo’s provocateur decided to backoff and try and let bygones be bygones. Taking a different course, he proposed a let’s-patch-things-up toast. Virgo didn’t embrace or acknowledge the man’s extended olive branch, nor did he rebuke him. Instead, he remained quiet and studied the man, not then bothering to make his move.

The drunk captain, stood up, and pushed back his chair. His beforehand hostility toned itself down; he shifted gears and took on a different demeanor. He admitted in his own words, he had a goddamned big mouth. He apologized for not holding up to his gentleman ship. He told the men he loved them and began to make good on his toast.

Just before he raised his glass, he eyeballed, then snatched, and began to devour a leftover piece of porterhouse steak. It would never be known if he noticed the huge hunk of fat dangling off the bone. After tossing the piece of meat into his mouth, the man began to choke, doing so before he took the opportunity to utter bon-voyage or bottoms up.

Grizzled meat, mixed with fat, lodged itself inside his throat. At first his compatriots laughed, thinking it was some sort of a prank. When he dropped his glass to the floor . . . placed both his hands around his throat, and began making awful-sounding noises—heaves, such as farm-animals do . . . and only after he nose-dived, slamming headfirst onto the table . . . it was only then that the choking man’s dinner companions realized the man was in real trouble.

Two of his fellow officers rushed to his aid and attempted to hold open his jaws, to try and remove the garbage clogging his windpipe. Then they made extensive efforts to remove the debris by putting into effect, the lifesaving, Heimliech maneuver. They bear hugged him and pounded on his back. The heaving man turned blue. His farewell concluded with a ghastly death rattle. A startled dinner crowd was aghast, pulling back their chairs while turning their heads away!

Louis Virgo just sat there, prim and proper and wasn’t about to lend a helping-hand. At the same time he remained confident, that with his medical training, he’d be able to rescue the dying man . . . but only if he chose to.

Simple for him it would have been, to perform a live-saving tracheotomy.

Virgo, a very meticulous man, made it a habit to carry with him at all times, a small, silver, nail-clipper. His hand sunk deep in his pocket and away from the view of others. He fished for the trimmer and flicked it open with his thumb and index finger and probed the clipper’s small-serrated blade.

By applying the knife’s blade and by making a small incision, close to the windpipe, he could by-pass the clogged area . . . that way he’d be able to keep the man breathing. Once the man’s life was no longer in immediate danger, he’d be able to casually dislodge the gristle from the esophagus. Virgo went so far as to envision himself performing the procedure, but he never had any intentions or desire to instigate such an altruistic act. He didn’t care for the man.

Louis Virgo rarely budged. He actually had to catch himself from further relaxing, and hold himself back from crossing his one leg over to the other. He remained both fixated and fascinated with the life and death situation. For the most part, Louis Virgo sat stoic, frozen into place with his right hand buried inside his pocket, all while his index finger estimated the blade’s sharpness.

Virgo’s excitement almost betrayed his cool demeanor when beads of perspiration broke out on his forehead and sold-out his indifference.

“Is there a doctor in the house? Is there a doctor in the house?” The three other officers hollered out for help and tried desperately to revive the man by finally employing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation—but it was too late. He was a goner.

More sordid, only inches away, out of casual view, and smack in the middle of Virgo’s lap, beneath his well-pressed, officers trousers, an evil man’s, blood-swollen member bulged with excitement.

The prick Virgo maintained a perverse erection, disgustingly brought on by the idea of death. Moments such as those were Heaven on Earth for the “perve.” The motionless, statuesque Virgo was a loathing bastard, a monster, a devious inhuman, who had a rock-solid penis pressing up against the zipper of his fly. His rotten-to-the-core insides were ecstatic.

A half-hour later the ambulance arrived and removed the captain’s body. In case there was any chance, the four officers accompanied their comrade’s corpse to the hospital. After the man was officially declared dead there was no use hanging around. They had an early flight. The three despondent officers and Virgo proceeded to make their way back to Presidio’s officers’ quarters by taxi. The body would be turned over to the military; there was nothing more that they could do.

One of the men in a grieving manner noted that they had yet to leave the country and there already had been a casualty amongst them.

Louis in a very nonchalant manner said he thought Captain Cummings (the dead officer’s name) had a piss-poor chance of making it in Vietnam      as infantry officer. Virgo indicated, Cumming’s had death written all over his face, and since he was so obnoxious, he’d probably get fragged by one of his own men.

Captain Petre, the dead man’s best friend, didn’t care much for Virgo’s tone, and told him so in a certain manner. That give and take led to more words and a fight ensued in the back of the cab. Virgo with a quick-snap broke Captain Petre’s right arm with a simple hold within five seconds—before the other two officers could break it up, Captain Petre was completely debilitated and in obvious pain.

The fight and its injury called for an immediate trip back to the hospital, but before the cab finished making a U-turn, Virgo commanded the driver to pull over and let him out.

He hopped out of the cab and threw a ten-dollar bill towards the astonished officers. With a thin smile Virgo wished the men “ado” and congratulated Captain Petre on his stay of orders, since it didn’t look as if he’d be taking off for “Nam” the next day.

“Someday you’ll thank me for getting you out of the mess you were about to get yourself into you, piece of shit! Oh! One thing for the rest of you turds. Don’t any of you ever think about fucking with me again, or I’ll kill all three of you worthless slobs!”

Then his face lit up, and his eyes got real glassy, and he placed a far off look on his face while he sing songed, “E-n-j-o-y the warrr boyyys.”

*    *    *

That had been almost 30 years ago.

He remained committed to the black side. He took interest in certain causes. As an invaluable tutor, he remained a pertinent information source for the Libyans, Syrians, Turks, and a plethora of terrorist groups. He affiliated himself and networked his services within renegade nations. Even the Israelis employed his services a few times.

In this instance of banditry, funds are desperately needed for a terrorist campaign in Spain. Virgo’s has been paid 1 million up front just for taking charge of the scheme. It is estimated by insiders, who were on Bally’s and Virgo’s payroll, that there would be 45 million on hand at Bally’s for the Memorial Day Weekend. Virgo’s gonna snatch it, kill anybody’s who gets in his way, and make a fast escape.

*    *    *

At approximately 10:45 p.m. two tossed percussion grenades will thunderously explode inside the casino!

The infiltrators will be dressed in clothes best described to investigators as Ninja suites. The weapons will have entered the hotel within the luggage at 3:00 p.m., about the time Johnny Lombardi starts his shift, and when fat Carl and fat Phil head for the casino, and about an hour before that other sorry son-of-a-bitch, unlucky-at-love, soon-to-be suicidal-if-he-doesn’t-win that night, comes marching into the casino’s main salon.

During the daring operation, one of the Spaniards will post himself directly in front of the cash cage. He’ll spray the entire casino floor with automatic gun-fire just above the heads of the casino crowd. If anybody gets hit, so, be it.

Virgo and the others will explode off the cage’s door with another rocking explosion. He and the other Spaniard will enter and blow away anybody in their path. The Italians will cover the cash cage, which is located only 20 feet from the boardwalk’s entrance.

They’ll roll in (on wheels) four, lightweight, portable, trash compactors, tooled so, when the time comes and at the press of a remote button, they’ll be able to tightly compress the bills worth millions so they’ll be packed solid into the contraptions. They’ll be able to be pulled with wheels. The wheels are the folded up kind that then convert into a sled-like, flat bottom, so to slide over the sand on the beach. The cash is there and Virgo realistically presumes it’s as good as his.

After they snatch the cash it’s out the door for them . . . it’s a mere twenty feet across the boardwalk, then down the wooden stairs heading down to the beach, and then 75 yards across the sands to the shore line, they’ll make their getaway.

A high-speed powerboat will be waiting on the moonless, dark, deserted shoreline at exactly 11:00 p.m. After they’re boarded, they’ll speedily motor a mile-or-two in a direction that only Virgo has charted. A waiting chopper will pick them up out at sea. They’ll scuttle the boat, and by morning, he’ll be in New York City having breakfast in bed at The Plaza. By Monday, he’ll be in Montreal, and by Tuesday he’ll be who knows where?

*    *    *

Virgo sat on the bed of his motel, staring at his watch, and trimming his nails while biding for prime time.

Throughout his career he remained a solitary man. His wicked profession offered lusting satisfaction; more so than any wife, mistress or lover boy. He harbored no desires for cuddling, not even a Santa hug. As for hugs—if they or physical contact occurred, he possessed a stronger urge—the urge to smother the miracle of life. That’s the one sensation that excited him!

As not to attract attention, he mostly kept away from women or men. For him, there was no need to stir up the juices of some bloodhound of a homicide detective or an international investigator.

When his loins called for it, he’d go out and get one, either by charm or cash. Those who he let go could consider themselves lucky.

Wealthy by birth, and further enriched by devious deeds, according present-day criminologists, Virgo was linked to a notorious bands of criminals and noted as being in a league of his own. Because of his far-reaching contacts, his lightning-quick mind, and his own daily regiment, a kept fit Virgo was atop of his game.

Once “one’s name” cropped up on Louis Virgo’s hit list, they could forget about that new Lexus or the family trip to the Grand Canyon. For them, life was over.

*    *    *

Louis Virgo busied himself during most of the late ’80s and early ’90s. He orchestrated more dramatic hits than DiNiro and Nicholson, whose Oscar-winning performances might have been considered pale compared to Virgo’s exploits.

*    *    *

There was the New York Mafioso who reigned in a neighborhood inside the borough of Queens. The Mafia’s high council wanted him dead. Their own hit men weren’t capable of the whacking without an all-out assault. Their desire: Not to have a bloodbath inside the close-knit neighborhood.

It was decided to bring in an outsider.

The neighborhood was an armed encampment, loaded with informers. Snitches lurked on every corner. Nothing underhanded occurred within the neighborhood without the thugs knowing. Most of the precinct cops were on the take. The rogue had been tipped off, and well aware of being accused and in the disfavor of higher ups; he watched his step.

Virgo was on the case.

After staking out the fallen-out-of-grace Mafioso’s neighborhood, Virgo summed he wouldn’t be able to just walk up and blow the guy away. Instead, as to get closer and observe the movements of the don, he applied for a menial job as a gas attendant, at an all-night gas station.

Virgo, hip enough, determined the Mafioso had to fill the tank of his Lincoln. His consensus: the Jackson Heights Hess Station was the only 24-hour station nearby the don’s hideout. Familiar with the type of hours gangsters keep, Virgo applied for the midnight ’til eight shift.

Lest we forget Virgo owned safe real estate around the world and controlled vast sums of currencies in Swiss bank accounts. Nevertheless, with much enthusiasm, he shed his aristocratic airs, and stooped to become a laborer. His hands became soiled and greasy; strangely, his spirits rose to a weirdo bliss. It was as if he relished the opportunity, spending a summer time in the crud of the city, rubbing elbows with the hoi-polloi.

Virgo whistled Snow White’s Whistle While You Work.”

Real folksy-like he mouthed to the station’s patrons, “howdy dos,” and “yos.” He pumped gas, checked under-the-hood, and cleaned windshields—making them spotless, and he gauged the pressure of the                                        1

tires belonging to the station’s inner-city, tough-talking patrons. There was certain satisfaction that spilled over adding to the weird bliss about killing them “Newyawkers” with kindness.

Confident about the new work station, he’d be able to keep track of the Mafioso’s comings-and-goings. Virgo worked seven nights a week. He told the station’s manager he had lots of kids to cloth and feed.

Up to that point, he only caught skimpy glimpses of the Mafioso’s Lincoln, as it bullied its way up-and-down the busy boulevard.

One early morning, at about 4:30 a.m., the big, dark Lincoln, slowly cruised into the Hess station.

A certain premonition alerted Virgo’s instincts, even before the Lincoln rolled over the station’s bell ringing, signal hoses!

The Mafioso arrived!

Even though his back was turned. Virgo was positive the time had come.

If one were able to describe Virgo’s face as he turned and prepared himself for another mission of death, one would have been privy to a fiendish-glee . . . a face which flickered and shined bright and the evil face which illuminated the glow of the devil.

From behind the Lincoln’s wheel a fat man let down a dark-tinted, electric window. The out-coming air conditioning whirled into the humid night from inside the four-door Town Car. The draft cooled Virgo’s moist face. He leaned forward.

Before he had a chance to peer further, a gruff voice halted his lean in. “Fill it up, cuz,” the fat man ordered.

Virgo froze a moment, rapidly shifting his eyes, trying to make out the figures in the back seat of the car. “Lets go, pal!” warned the big man.

The driver never noticed Virgo’s risky move; how he sneaky-like, slipped a Velcro band around the Town Car’s door handles, handles situated only inches apart in the sedan’s mid-section.

The driver sent the window upward, satisfied the gas station’s schlep had hopefully gone back to put gas into the car’s tank.

The wise guys probably relaxed within the safe confines of their bulletproof limo. Virgo continued on the job, as he quickstepped and hopped to it.

He came around from the rear, then again, coming close to the passenger’s side window.

They watched him carefully.

Sounding more and more like a “goober,” or echoing the twang of a Gomer Pyle, all while maintaining a hangdog look, he placed that made-up, goofy-looking face again, close to the window. Virgo stayed cool and asked in a real folksy manner if they wanted the oil-checked?

“Check the oil, sir?”

Beneath the show, he was nervous. For all he knew weapons were fixed on him; one false move could unleash a volley of lead. With iron-balls he one-handed another Velcro strap, one camouflaged inside an oil rag. The men inside never detected how he finagled the Velcro.

“Fuck a bunch of oil, hick! Just fill it the fuck up, ass-hole, and make it snappy!” came an annoyed and even gruffer voice.

“Yes, sir! Fill it, up! Right away, sir.”

Virgo, not panicking, his veneer still in tack, took his time when leaning back off the glass. He maintained his folksy-like smile. In lieu of returning to the Lincoln’s rear, he strolled over to the other gas-pumping island. He calmly removed the hose off an idle pump, and while gleefully whistling his favorite, Disney tune and with dwarf-like animation he held the hose skyward and showered the tough-guys car with gasoline.

As soon as the occupants were aware the fool attendant wasn’t showering them with a complimentary car wash—they went for the doors!

They met resistance! They frantically pushed and yanked on the door handles. The five-seconds the Velcro straps held delayed any exit from the soon-to-be inferno.

Those five seconds were enough time for Virgo to toss a special, pre-gelled, Zippo lighter on top of the Lincoln. The zipped-up, pyrotechnic device, which Virgo developed himself, spread flames over the entire vehicle.

Less folksy-like Virgo sped things up. He blitzed over to another pump. While the Lincoln was taking on the look of a metal bonfire, he yanked another nozzle out of the pump’s “hear-no-evil, see-no-evil’s” ear. He arced another high-octane stream onto the roof of the burning sedan.

Struggling, the men partially opened the strapped doors. Hoping there would be some chance for escape; Virgo sent a stream directly towards them. The flames feasted on the incoming gasoline. In the front-and-back seat, burning men bounced off one another as panic-stricken, gasoline-ignited human torches. They screamed in confusion and agony.

With incredible force a door finally flung itself open, finally breaking the hold of the straps.

One victim rolled out. He no longer appeared human. Instead, he was more more of an “IT” rather than a “HE.” The victim took on the characteristic of a blazing tumbleweed as the charred hunk rolled towards the curb. When it came to a halt, it was no more than a well-done clump, a mass of charred Mafioso, moaning for mercy . . . begging for some sort relief . . . praying for death.

The rest of them laid back, gone, scorched, barbecued and immobile,                                    1

lying dead inside the out-of-gas and out-of-luck limo.

Virgo threw away the pump and made tracks. He sensed that all during the goings on, he had heard nothing within his mind, except for a humming sound. It was only after the men were well-done did Virgo recall the echoes blending into agonizing moans and heart-wrenching cries, shattering screams that violently broke the summertime tranquility of the sleeping neighborhood.

He giggled inside, beside himself, while getting away triumphantly, replaying those agonizing sounds inside of his head for his own pleasure. He ran swiftly and silently.

After two blocks he slowed to a stroll, assured about his anonymity. His parked car sat waiting.

The getaway ride seemed to have a sinister smile on its front grill, like an in waiting welcome wagon, flashing a ‘well done.’ He remained heady and giddy. He regained his focus, taking particular caution, knowing full well he still remained deep within enemy territory.

That was all right. With him he had help. He possessed a revolver and a reliable escape vehicle. He wasn’t alone either. His buddy was with him?

Standing up strong, underneath his gasoline-pumping overalls; his cavalier pal was none other than a iron-fisted hard-on!

Before he pulled from the curb, he squeezed himself, and did so while on his way for a few-more traffic lights before he fondled himself to a release, doing so all over the insides those overalls. Ah, it felt so good!

*    *    *

On another occasion Virgo had been requested to drop everything and go directly to Wall Street. The big boys were concerned.

In Indiana, the FBI and the Justice Department had granted immunity to a smalltime accountant, one who had been laundering big-time drug money via local banks.

Seems an Indianapolis banking firm and the Wall Street boys were in bed with a Colombian drug cartel. If the accountant were to spill the beans, the testimony might put a lot of big people away.

Virgo was appropriately contracted for seven figures.

The FBI’s special witness remained holed up, kept under heavy guard at a secret location. On the sunny morning when the accountant was supposed to drop the names in front of a grand jury, he was cautiously escorted out of the fed’s hide-out by a dozen, heavily armed FBI men.

Two-sleek, stretch limos waited. The FBI, taking no chances, had bomb-sniffing dogs snoop around the apartment house beforehand. The men departing including the soon-to-be testifying accountant, were all dressed in identical blue-blazers, gray-slacks and they wore mirrored-sunglasses. Matched to size of their star witness, the contingent was a one-size fits all. To the average eye, it was impossible to differentiate between the witness or the dozen, FBI decoys.

The look-a-likes scrambled down the steps and squeezed themselves into the two vehicles. They zoomed away in the look-a-like limos, driven by look-a-like drivers. Outside the court house security remained just as tight. The limos pulled up in front. The look-alikes quickly piled out, slamming car doors, then huddled as they formed together as a solid unit and stormed up the marble steps.

Reporters and cameramen rushed the sporting-sun glassed, blue-blazered, slicked-back-hair dozen—leaving behind the two look-alike drivers.

No time was allowed for the reporters to ask questions. As the throng disappeared behind the closed doors, reporters and the rest would have to wait for the stooge’s testimony inside the courtroom. The two limos slowly pulled around to the side of the court building and headed down a ramp towards an underground parking garage.

Because the two, limo drivers weren’t familiar with the parking garage, they didn’t notice that the arrowed parking-lot, traffic sign had been tampered with. That arrow directed the limos where to park. They also weren’t aware that the direction arrow had been turned in the opposite direction. The limos rolled towards a far corner of the garage.

Mostly everyone was upstairs, attending what they presumed was the “Main Event.”

It turned out: One of the limo drivers was non-other than Special Agent Wilson, the man given credit by the local media for breaking the case. The other blue-blazered, limo driver, was non-other than the accountant stooge!

After the debacle the FBI’s Indianapolis and Washington bureaus stated they were absolutely positive, the procedures taken, were a thorough, well-thought-out plan, including back-up systems.

First there was the look-alike disguises. Second, them having everyone think the star witness was clumped into the group briefly exposed on the steps. Third, with them having their star witness and the head of security impersonating themselves as chauffeurs would all be enough to fool any attempted assassination attempt.

According to the FBI, they calculated the risks.

Turns out they were too clever, maybe too cute. Their in-house security failed.

Rather than being filled in, both the courthouse security and the Indianapolis police howled with bitching righteousness, how, if they were taken into confidence and properly briefed, about the FBI’s secret plan, “Surely,” they brayed, they would have had their best men down in that garage to both back up and cover.

It wouldn’t have mattered. A couple of town cops hanging around a boring parking garage wouldn’t have been a fair match. More people would have gotten killed.

Virgo’s normally pale exterior flushed with vile excitement after seeing the absolute shock and frozen faces flashed by the two-doomed men, just after the FBI man opened the trunk to retrieve his briefs!

Instead of just retrieving his brief case, Special Agent Wilson, along with the star witness, found a crouched and ready-for-action Virgo, curled up inside the good-sized trunk. Virgo emerged clinging to a 25-caliber handgun, its lethal bangs muffled by a silencer as he came out a-shooting.

Without a speck of time to say touché, Special Agent Wilson’s heartbeat ceased, just after sizing up his assassin Virgo and his clothes were the exact same as the rest of the escort. Virgo was fabulously sporting those mirrored-sun-glasses, blue-blazer and matching, gray-flannel slacks.

Virgo portrayed himself as a sure-shot killer, doing so in appropriate conservative attire for the occasion, a man fulfilling his contract for the winged-tipped, button-down-collar crowd.

According to the two eye witnesses he systematically held his arm ramrod straight, and then squeezed the trigger, pumping lead into two hearts and two heads.

He calmly removed himself from the trunk, straightened his wrinkled clothes and made a neat get away.

Just before Louis Virgo escaped, he removed from the inside pocket of his blue-blazer two paperback novels. He tossed the novels one after the other towards his stretched-out victims. Once both paperbacks landed, they seesawed atop the men’s torn-open chests. The men, with eyes wide open wore shocked expressions, as if, “I can’t believe this happened to me.”

The paperbacks became hard evidence along with the cyanide-dipped bullets. Virgo left a message, including raw egg on the face of the straight-laced, law-enforcement agency.

Outside the walls of the FBI, no news accounts were made public regarding the mysterious paperback books.

*  *    *

It was the newspapers that first reported the accounts of the accountant’s involvement with local banks, and how it was Special Agent Wilson who first broke the case. Throughout the preceding he remained in charge.

Indianapolis isn’t a big place, and when a big story such as an international conspiracy hits the streets—about a local accountant— mixed up with big-banks and big-criminals from Wall Street and foreign countries—why that’s big stuff, especially in a relatively small                                       1

place such as Indianapolis. The local press played it up.

After the initial indictment, Virgo arrived in town. He missed the earlier published editions and ventured to the friendly-local library. On a view finder he read with interest the news accounts published about the money-laundering scheme. He took in with scrutiny every other course of events leading towards the indictments, the arrest, and the idea about there being some-sort of plea-bargaining deal in the works. The paper went so far to print locations and court dates.

There was more.

Somewhere in the contents of every newspaper article the news briefs mentioned one Special-Agent Wilson, the FBI’s regional agent in charge. It wasn’t difficult for someone such as Louis Virgo to sum up, in a place such as Indianapolis—a place where the locally assigned detachment of FBI agents must be relatively small—a place where someone such as Special Agent Wilson, more-than-likely would remain in charge, probably remaining in charge during that very moment.

Rather than attempting to sniff out the witness, Virgo focused in on Wilson. He became flabbergasted how a clandestine-professional organization such as the FBI could so foolishly expose itself by stupidly pulling publicity stunts.

All throughout the preceding it was the FBI who instigated unneeded exposure. They encouraged the press, flaunting a: ‘here’s your law-enforcement agency at its best.’

With that intelligence Virgo tailed Special Agent Wilson. Virgo uncovered where the stool pigeon was holed up on the very first day he arrived in Indianapolis.

By following Special Agent Wilson he discovered where the star witness had been sequestered; hidden in a swank, downtown-apartment complex, right next to a ritzy-shopping center.

Naturally, having the exact location of the mole’s whereabouts became an advantage, but he surmised a quick move as being too dicey, Virgo wouldn’t risk premature attack. He’d wait. He concentrated on Agent Wilson in lieu of pulling off a kamikaze raid.

He gained valuable insight, especially about Special Agent Wilson’s work habits. While keeping track, Virgo’s insight picked up similar comparisons to his own. He and the tailed-one had one thing in common.

Both were avid readers. He observed Wilson’s ferocious appetite for leisure reading. Wilson normally carried on his person some sort of paperback. He didn’t keep the novels in his briefcase with the rest of his paperwork. Wilson usually had one stuffed in a suit-coat pocket.

Whenever Wilson went to lunch or dinner by himself, usually at the shopping center’s Harvest House, he read.

Virgo further concluded, he probably passed idle time reading, while baby-sitting the soon-to-be-dead squealer.

Virgo, scoffed to himself about the chump’s reading material, how an educated man’s beady eyes gobbled up the goody-two-shoes junk.

By then Virgo had woven a physiological profile. Wilson, a typical career-government agent, swallowed and digested the bunk, about so-called patriots, all stilted by a right-wing, rallying crying belonging to those who attempted to “paint a perfect world.”

With Oxford, West Point and Vietnam far behind, Virgo was bored and fed up with robotic guys, sold and filled to the brim, with God and country hyperbole.

Virgo gave his fiction a better grade.

Louis Virgo, with turn-the-pockets inside-out determination, as a gumshoe perfectionist, purchased or checked out from the local library, every paperback the agent carried, and he did so for a month’s time.

The title of one particular novel read by the FBI man was The Price Of Justice. It sparked Virgo’s interest.

The fiction novel dealt in part with French Nationals, French Nationals on trial for treason just after the war. In the time frame of the story, France had been recently liberated from the Nazis, and serious charges were leveled against Vichey traitors. The town’s people were up in arms. Fresh in their minds were the bitter memories from the Nazis brutal occupation.

Rather than taking a chance on a trial, the town’s people were                                         1

drooling for summary justice, more so in the form of rope and a tree. Inside the pages of the novel a potential chaotic situation was described. The night before the trial, the people of the town formed a human blockade around the jail. “Turn them over to us!” it was written.

The French garrison’s commander feared the situation may have gotten out of hand. The crowd could storm the building, and then he would have been forced to fire on his own people—plus, be unable to deliver the suspects safely the next day inside the courthouse.

In the book’s story, the French commander had the prisoners disrobe, having them change into some of his own mens’ uniforms. Then he integrated the prisoners within the ranks of his own detachment, and without much fanfare, he smartly marched them right-out the gate towards the courthouse and past the unsuspecting town’s people — doing so more than five hours before the trial was scheduled to begin.

The crowd of vigilantes ignored the detachment marching past the gate, giving the soldiers no-real mind other than taunting and murmuring for them to turn on their superiors and flush the prisoners out for them. They marched onward, and the town’s people refocused their attention back towards the garrison, convinced the Vichey French were still locked up inside.

After Louis Virgo read the chapter about the trickery pulled off by the French commander, he smiled. He had him! Uncovered: Virgo owned the goods on Special Agent Wilson!

He never bothered to finish the novel. He had read enough of Wilson’s limp-dick taste in pansy-assed literature.

The rest of his plan fell in place.

Virgo detected more chinks in the FBI’s armor.

He noticed wholesale replacements within the FBI’s crew; new agents were joining the stakeout team. In a week’s time oddly built FBI agents were gradually relieved. The new one’s were collectively five-foot-seven in height, modeling themselves as look-alikes, slightly swollen, with that two-donuts-with-their-coffee roundness. It was no coincidence; the replacements matched the dimensions of their hidden subject.

Virgo memorized the accountant’s personal statistics, plus had a good picture of him, one he cutout of the Indianapolis paper.

Virgo couldn’t help but notice how those same FBI men couldn’t resist wearing those new-mirrored sunglasses, shades purchased at the expense of the government, chosen by Special Agent Wilson. The constant wearing of the Bucci brand sunglasses may have been premature. They were originally purchased to make their fashion debut during the big-event.

Agent Wilson also was aware the security glitch and made a mental note. He let it slide.

A diligent detective surely would have or should have suspected there were other tedious sleuths lurking in the shadows of Indianapolis, sleuths every-bit as smart and as-determined . . . with those thoughts in mind, he should have taken precautions, rather than being figured out and then coldly shot down by someone acting as his government’s kill joy.

Those mistakes doomed the mission.

Agent Wilson’s reading habits, and then the fact he normally placed his briefcase in the trunk of vehicles, all compounded within Virgo’s fierce tenacity, took Wilson down.

One thing led to another. When Virgo’s tailing became routine, Wilson, and two of his deputies walked out of the apartment house one day and went to their usual spot for lunch. After lunch, Agent Wilson and the two others made an additional stop.

Virgo, who by then was always close-by sat on a mall bench reading King’s Misery. He watched the FBI types lugging good-sized, white boxes with a men’s clothing-store logo printed on the sides: “Bradley House; Men’s Finery.”

Virgo, while still sniffing asses an hour later, again trailed Wilson and two others back to the same store. Virgo went so far as to venture into the men’s shop to browse with the FBI men inside shopping.

Modeling for himself, and while trying-on hats, Virgo noticed the accompanying agents were fitted by a not-so-enthused clerk, fitting them into the identical blue-blazers and conservative, gray-flannel slacks.

While at the checkout counter Virgo mingled in the men’s presence. He brazenly fingered items, leaving smudges on the sunglasses. While doing so, he stepped aside and did his fingering from just a ruler’s length over, so the agent could pay for the three blazers and three pairs of pants. The agent produced a green, American-Express card.

Virgo cataloged the card’s statistics in his memory: Wallace P. Wilson, 3567 3690 3212, card-member since 1973, expiration date, 10/19/1992.

Really into the hunt and excited about the turn of events, he had to suppress himself. Right then his killing instincts ran wild from within, tempting him to maybe shelve his main purpose and just go for their throats. Virgo detested residing in white-bread Indianapolis.

Instead of making a false move, he craved on the inside. A silent evil simmered. If such a inner growl could have been overheard, it surely would have provoked fear down the bravest of men’s spines.

Virgo’s demeanor, cool as the Bucci’s exterior, but a volcano erupted inside.

American Express mistakenly embossed Wilson’s expiration date. Virgo knew precisely Wilson’s expiration date, without viewing the card.

He possessed a heavy-duty neutron in his pants!

After the threesome departed, Virgo stayed awhile and continued to browse. He approached and questioned the clerk, the one who was waiting on the three men.

He asked the store clerk, in an inquisitive manner, if those men, the ones who just purchased the blue-blazers, were part of some sort of musicale group. He told the clerk in a hokey sort of way, those customers looked awfully familiar. He stated, he thought they once sang at his church.

The clerk said he didn’t know if they were church singers or not, but in the same breath, revealed the same man, the one who paid for the clothing had accompanied six-or-seven other men to the store a few days before, and they too purchased identical clothing.

Virgo snapped his finger and flashed a “by-golly” grin. He placed a special twinkle in his eye and went on to cackle. “Golly! I bet that’s them!”

Then he “cockle-doodle-dood,” and put on a real-show for the clerk who started wondering, “Who was this geek?”

Wilson’s most crucial mistake—-not keeping away from the hideout occupied by the twit accountant–making personal contact with anyone within the witness protection program was a crucial error. All contacts should have taken place exclusively within the privacy of his office. That blunder precipitated the total collapse of the government’s case and further cost the agent his life.

*    *    *

The “dorky idea” orchestrated by Virgo, about the FBI men being some church-singing group was the only explanation given by the clerk when the FBI finally got around to questioning him two months later.

“How was I to know FBI men were shopping in our store?” the clerk complained, doing so while the FBI men were lifting fingerprints off the sun-glass shelf.

The clerk went on to say he went so far as speak of the goofy-guy incident to Agent Wilson the next instance he shopped . . . about the weirdo, the weirdo who placed and saw Wilson and his associates as gospel singers. He further brought to light something else unusual? He confessed he actually told the-then-living Wilson how the hillbilly sounding man made his own buy and purchased the same blue-and-grey ensemble, making it a bakers-dozen.

Wilson’s reaction?

The agent didn’t seem fazed about the mistaken identity, failed to show concern or intrigue. The facts were, he basked in the light for a moment, getting a kick out of the misidentification.

“Imagine me being in a church singing group!” He kidded with the clerk. Unbeknown to him he’d soon be in church, but he wouldn’t be the one singing.

Virgo paid cash for his very-own blue-blazer and contrasting slacks. Virgo was a pro.

Virgo would have never shopped at Bradly’s. Virgo was a monster, a monster with discriminating taste.

*    *    *

Virgo prepared. He was waiting to check into Bally’s Grand.





Johnny Lombardi pulled himself together. He didn’t look forward to pedaling the one wheeler to work. Jerk-off Joe Rizzo would more-than-likely be all over his case.

Joe seemed extra tough on him, never showing quarter, not giving an inch when it came to Johnny.

Vito DeMarco, his mentor, affirmed he too speculated Joe was somewhat tougher on Johnny than other croupiers. Vito figured it was because Joe Rizzo recognized Johnny’s potential.

Vito said, Rizzo once stated, away from Johnny’s ear, and voiced seeing a look alike image of himself when he started out 10 years before.

Rizzo’s mindless venom, along with a pit bull’s wrath didn’t appear as gentle and nudging in the view of an admired protégé. Rizzo’s harassment went above and beyond, overbearingly nitpicking, colored in as mean spirited. Johnny didn’t appreciate the fit, or to remind anyone of anybody. Being molded-into a prototype wasn’t his chosen vocation right then.

Harping, leaning on him, peeking over his shoulder, barking, quizzing, cajoling, Joe pulled white glove inspections and insisted Johnny know the precise amount of chips piled within his stack. Rizzo usually spilled out the correct answer in the midst of Johnny’s count.

Joe would just quip, “Too slow.”

Johnny preferred to be treated like Vito, who was the grand pooh-pah when it came to craps dealing. Vito was placed as the undisputed master on Johnny’s table.

Rizzo never fucked with Vito.

Vito’s dark and deep-set eyes flashed a brilliant intelligence from a man who barely eked through school. Those eyes backed him up when it came to doing his job. He put most to shame when it came to calculating. Coworkers voiced they would have relished a chance to observe Vito do his thing at some academic competition. They would have placed their wagers on Vito against eggheads from someplace like MIT.

Vito calculated payoffs with lightning-quick accuracy and did so in a flamboyant fashion, which endeared him to the crew. He also was a great guy!

Vito bounced chips randomly off the felt-covered table. They bounced back like rubber balls, ricocheting from a cement sidewalk. On the comeback, and after doing a chippy somersault, they plopped almost evenly in place on top of his piled stack. He’d palm and turn the chips effortlessly and gracefully; taking into account Vito possessed small, stubby hands.

When Johnny attempted to duplicate Vito’s handiwork, even with Vito’s assistance, the chips became too slippery to maneuver and they fell from his fingers.

Joe Rizzo standard advice to Johnny, and towards everybody else too was, “Just do as Vito does!”

*    *    *

Johnny moved out of the shower and dried himself in front of the mirror. He meandered a bit while waiting for the steamed up mirror to clear as to shave. He lathered, shaved and then rinsed his cherub face. Johnny took a good gander. Maybe what the girls were saying was true.

His nose: Not too much larger, but no longer that once, soft smidgen of a cartilage and it was no more the cute centerpiece of a little boy’s face.

His eyes: Then set back some, not as deep as Vito DeMarco’s but a shade darker.

Feeling some what spunkier after the shower and shave, Johnny forced a slight smile and mumbled in a slow manner a few tones above whisper, “You sexy motherfucker, you!” A confident smile ensued . . . only to be erased.

In filtered the negative; the thoughts of the drudgery; a tiresome, sweat-producing, one-wheeled ride towards work, and then the additional pressure about to come his way from Candy!

The anniversary party!

Then how his buddy Brad had planned a post-work exercise program with the two, married bums from up in Philly.

Right then the situation became too much to concentrate on. Later on perhaps, when he shed the cob webs from the night before, he’d force himself to make a decision. Curing in his mind, Christ, Memorial Day weekend, it’s gonna be a killer in there tonight.

*    *    *

Perched atop the wheel he zoomed down Sacramento. Still shaky, Johnny maneuvered a perilous left on Ventnor Ave. While pedaling his ass off . . . the exercise woke up his muscles. He picked up speed and headed due north towards town. After a couple of blocks at full throttle he scooted up the ramp onto the boardwalk.

The sea breeze: Cleansing and refreshing! The first beaming smile came in his direction and delivered from a fabulous-looking, full-figured boardwalk stroller. The smile reset his mood. It was a beautiful day.

While pedaling he turned his head towards the white-sand beach and spotted a couple of middle-aged, heavyset women. They looked beat, struggling to move the girth of fat broads, breathing heavy, as they trudged a few steps from where they broke camp, dealing with their stuff while screaming their lungs out at their wayward kids.

After checking out a great-looking brunette in the other direction, Johnny kept his head turned for a tastier view; not precisely paying attention where he pedaled; he almost ran up the backside of a marching-along, bald guy in a maroon windbreaker.

The almost run over guy didn’t seemed fazed about Johnny’s hazardous pedaling and the guy didn’t volley back much of a stink eye. He couldn’t really tell ’cause the guy was wearing sunglasses.

Down the boardwalk, two fat guys with bird shit on their foreheads also marched towards destiny. They acted animated, talked loudly, and one swung his arms then pointed to the heavens.

In turn, the two checked out Johnny.

“Hey, Phil, get a load of that guy. Wonder where we can rent a couple of them things?”

Overhearing, Johnny smirked, him knowing those two fat-asses wouldn’t be able to pedal a skimpy 10 feet. AC was filling up with wise guys.

He arrived fifteen minutes before his shift. Inside the crap dealers break room, Vito and the rest were on hand.

Crowley, one of the crew, informed Johnny, “Somebody called fifteen minutes ago, said her name’s, Candy, said she’d pick you up if you need a ride home, so you can change cloths for some sort of affair.”

Johnny simply shook his head.

Vito delivered the rest of the message, “She left a number. . . if you can’t get back to her, or if she misses your call, she’ll be here at 10:45. . .

“Oh yeah, by the way, Rizzo said check in. He’s on the rag. . . We gave away the joint last night right after ya left. The big boys must be on his ass. Johnson paid out black chips three times by mistake. Rizzo’s pissed, even gave me a raft of shit. Fucks with me one more time and I’ll plant his dego ass.”

The calmness broke by a storming-in Joe Rizzo.

“Lombardi! Let’s go! There’s a table waiting. You’re on, #32 . . . You too, Vito. You’re both with, Johnson, Crowley and me.”

Once out on the floor Rizzo continued his bullying.

Johnny Lombardi had discussed with Vito his ongoing friction with Joe Rizzo, did so just a few nights before over drinks.

After a general discussion, Johnny told Vito he suspected that Joe Rizzo suffered from Pigeon Syndrome.

Johnny told a story, saying where-and-when he first heard the term ‘Pigeon Syndrome.’ it was back when he was a mid-teenager, when he worked up on the boardwalk at a pizza joint—got it from an admired old-timer, his coworker, who shared wisdom while the duo kneaded pizza dough. Told Vito how the old man toiled along side him as an equal and to earn cigarette money.

Johnny placed a warm smile on his face recollecting how the old guy often flashed savvy. He learned more about life during that summer, than from his parents, younger pals or schooling.

Johnny explained, how the old man dealt with their tyrant boss. “Whenever the owners showed up for a look-see, the chump manager would kiss ass and be ever-so nice. “The prick was all smiles for customers too, but when it came to dealing with us guys, he was a terror, a real fucking, Atilla the Hun. Me and the old man were constantly victimized . . . ya know . . . ‘Do, this! Pick up that! Hey, you!’ them doing it just the way, Rizzo, does.

“That old man! . . . I can see him still, with a cigarette butt dangling off his lips. He used to say, right after the manager gave us a raft of his shit, ‘the, cock sucker, suffers from ‘Pigeon Syndrome!’

I asked the old man what the hell was ‘Pigeon Syndrome?’ . . . Bartelemeo! . . That’s his name. “Bartelemeo would growl in a low gravel-type voice with a slight, Italian accent and he’d explain about those who suffer from the infliction, ‘Son, you know the type, a scungiel, a mama-luke who eats crumbs from the hands he thinks are above him and then has the nerve to shit on the hands on who he believes are beneath him.'”

Johnny’s view, Joe Rizzo’s and that pizza manager’s names could be found in the dictionary under definition Pigeon Syndrome.

“If they ain’t there somebody should write to Webster’s.”

Vito, with a vibrant smile on his face revealed that the story could only come from one person, Bartelemeo De Marco. The old man was his father! Said, he remembered his dad speaking of a young Johnny and it saddened Johnny when Vito stated his father passed away. Vito said he too was taught many a valuable lesson from the man who understood somewhat, what makes people tick, and doing so with talk of people who suffered from ‘Pigeon Syndrome.’

*    *    *

The five, working men took command of the craps table. The table was full, no additional spots for other gamblers. The gamblers fingered chips, smoked their smokes, and leaned hard on the table the way drinkers do in a wild-west bar. “Play the, hard-eight! . . . Press the, six! . . . Put a green chip on the, Come Line. . . Back up the, pass bet . . . Give me a color change . . . ”

Those examples were a litany of commands taken in by Johnny’s brain. Commands he’d act upon and do so the very instant his waistline hit the backside of CT-32. (Craps Table, Thirty-Two)

The table was in the middle of a dice-rolling round. The marker rested on #6.

Stepping in, Johnny had about eight seconds to see that all bets were properly placed before a biting-at-the-bit dice-roller would let ’em go.

If somebody shouted, “No-more-bets!” and if the bets in his area weren’t correct Rizzo be snapping insults in a condescending manner, doing so in front of the crew and in front of the gamblers.

Johnny relieved a coworker, took deep breaths and gathered his wherewithal.

The dice soared! After a midair collision the dice crash landed into the cushioned sides of the table then moved a couple of inches apart in opposite directions. They finally came to a-stillness.

Four black dots on each die faced towards the crystal chandeliers.

Crowley shouted, “Hard, Eight! Double, Fours! We got winners in double territory!”

Johnny paid the appropriate amount of chips to one bettor who placed a wager on a hard eight, a green chip ($25), inside a square, designated for double fours, situated amongst double combinations posted in the table’s middle.

The bettor predicted two-fours would come up before a round-ending #7. The hit paid ten-to-one odds, in the amount of $250.

The hitting of the #8 didn’t end the round. The round continued . . . . When Johnny’s crew took over the table, a while plastic marker the size of a breakfast biscuit sat in a square marked #6 . . . meaning that was considered in dice talk, as the point . . . . the point to be made, meaning, if a #6 came out before a #7,—those playing against the house would be winners, players who were betting on what they call the Pass-Line. They too would be paid.

But if a #7 were to have been rolled the players on the Pass Line lost. Then take into account the contraries . . . those who played the Do Not Pass line, why they would win on #7. They were with the house.

Wagers who set their chips on the Do-Not-Pass line are usually referred to as bull bettors; those who disagreed with the dice roller, who usually is looking and attempting to make a specific number; in other words, those are they (The Do Not Pass bettors) That side with the house.


Below is an example of a craps table:

COME LINE                           COME LINE

4|5|6|8|9|10|                       4|5|6|8|9|10|


2 3 4 5 9 10 11 12

OPENING SEVEN (5-1 odds)

DOUBLE 3s (10-1)|      DOUBLE 5s (8-1)|

DOUBLE 4s (10-1)|      DOUBLE 2s (8-1)|

DOUBLE 1s (30-1)       DOUBLE 6s (30-1)|

2-1 (15-1)            6-5 (15-1)

Any Craps (8-1)|


PASS LINE                              PASS LINE

DO NOT PASS LINE                         DO NOT PASS LINE

Johnson controlled the stick like a maestro as he planted himself in the center of the table. The stick, four-foot long, shaped like a back scratcher, enabled Johnson to retrieve errant chips and dice. Johnson extended the clawed end, similar to the way hockey players scoots back a puck.

Vito and Johnny anchored one end while Crowley and Johnson honchoed events on the other.

Joe Rizzo stood there; suave, slick, in his Armani suit. His blue-striped Ralph Lauren dress shirt was perfectly tucked into his suit’s pants. The dress shirt’s blue color was topped off by a contrasting solid-white, tabbed-collar. Lassoed around the collar—-a paisley tie, knotted perfect into a precise Windsor.

What about Johnny’s garb?

His impression of himself, embarrassing, draped in an A-stylish purple-and-white tunic, Johnny envisioned himself as more of a clown. It pissed him off.

Joe Rizzo stood there, ever so cool, ever so pomp, leaving no doubt about Who’s in charge.

Rizzo mother-henned, frightfully alert, zeroing his eyes in on every bet, every play and every pay off.

Vito remained relaxed and as usual, dazzled the players with his chip-handling acrobatics. Even those losing marveled with a sense of amusement how Vito scooped up their loses with flamboyance and flair.

The then-present roller had beforehand gained the table’s confidence by not crapping out, and by rolling that first #8.

Number 6 remained the magic number. Number 7 tumbling out would mean a loss.

*    *    *

A roller gains status by rolling winning numbers, or just plain numbers for that matter . . . by rolling numbers which won’t end the round.

Even the meekest of players who don’t roll the dice have the ability to show case impact and modestly make serious money, as someone else with more bravado throws the dice. And with that said and done, once the time comes and it’s one of those milquetoasts turn to roll the dice, they manifest into an absolute tiger.

*    *    *

The table’s new-shining knight promptly tossed out another #8. The table cheered, most were situated on the Pass Line. Some pressed their original bets on the #8, looking to double their earlier bet.

Again, don’t forget the called-for number #6 is being the most barked for, done so by the optimistic with faces beaming at the thrill of being in the action while milling around the table’s edge, calling for what would make those Pass-Line bettors winners, with the making of that easy #6.

Mathematicians say, if you’re going strictly by the odds the possibilities are that #7 is, odds-wise, the easiest number to roll, and in the very instance we’re dealing with here that #7 is the very number which would sink the #6 rooters . . . along with all those on the Come Line and the crowd who have money down on those double squares and even those playing The Field.

There are 36 possibilities that can arrive from the roll of a pair of dice.

You figure . . .

*       *       *

The bank pays odds on those bets, bets that can only be waged after the initial roll. A gambler places chips just behind his laid chips, informs the croupier he’s backing up money already settled and wagered on the Pass Line. The house pays: two-to-one on #4 & #10, and three-two on #5 & #9, and six-to-five on, #6 & #8.

There are set odds if something like double-fours (4-4) turns up.

Then there’s the famous Playing of the Field.

After the initial roll and on subsequent rolls, the house pays

even money to winners who’ve placed chips in the Field area. The Field pays #2s, #3s, the #4, #5, #9, #10, #11 and #12.

When I say Playing The Field we’re not talking about dating. Professional gamblers will be quick to tell you ‘The Field’s’ a sucker’s bet.

*    *    *

Mathematically, winning or losing has everything to do with odds. If one is to become a proficient dice player, and truly believes they have a near shot at earning serious money, they had better be astute when it comes to odds. Only a pure fool or lucky sons of bitches ignore them.

*       *       *

Out of the corner of his eye, Johnny scanned those snugged close to the table. They were a patchwork, mostly pure suckers throwing money away.

With his limited experience Johnny had yet been able to differentiate between hard-core losers and solid winners. Oh, he had seen substantial gains and horrific loses, but still couldn’t tell for sure.

He remained anchored on the backside of the table, a location at the table’s, right-facing. To his left was a small, shaky-looking man wearing bone-framed glasses. The old man was dressed just one-notch above shabby. He smoked filterless Pall Malls. The old-timer let ’em burn way down to his yellow-stained fingers. He lipped the smoke. Its back end soaked from saliva. Drubs and drabs inched out of the wetness of the paper. Some stuck to the old man’s cracked lips and then, some fell and nested on the wide lapel of his tattered sports coat.

His dwindling mother load: A meager smattering of naked looking chips, not looking all that confident, leaned up against one another. They sat in a ravine’s bed, curved and made of walnut designed by craps-table manufactures to host chips. The ravines freed bettor’s hands to roll-the-dice, or smoke, drink, whatever.

The old man took account of his chips after each round.

He muttered a low-sounding, down-and-out, “Mercy me,” each time he lost. Not-often-heard by Johnny’s ears, was a subtle, “Attah, baby!” the few times he lucked out.

The old man remained shaky, knowing scared money never wins, so he was a lightweight bettor. Nevertheless, he was losing at such a rate. While risking meager $2 bets neither was his fortune or ante going to rise. Johnny, even without much experience scheduled the old dude getting wiped out in about an hour. He cashed in $200 so far.

Next to him stood a fat lady. Johnny played with her before, figuring by the way she was slamming those mimosas she was drunk. The floozie was topped off in a crooked-orange wig. She smoked. She wheezed. She made eye contact with anyone willing. The fat broad was schlocked-out in ostentatious jewelry, gold rings and bracelets cuffed around her swollen fingers and swollen wrists. Everything about her was swollen.

During each roll she dramatically raised and flailed flabby underarms. Did so as if rehearsed. Her triple chin could only be out-done by grotesque head supported by a bull neck.

Husky voice, “Oh, goodness!” came off her painted lips as the tossed dice floated and tumbled.

She’d raise one of her puffy hands up towards her mascara-shaded eyes to shield her eyes from seeing the outcome of the tossed dice. She’d peek from between the jewelry. Just as coy, she’d gush, and then shiver, and then re-scan the table looking to make contact.

Her bets were more cavalier than the stuck-in-quicksand bag of bones to her right. She’d ease out $10 on the Pass Line, and backed it up in a nonchalant manner. If the rolling sequence went on, she’d sneak out a nickel ($5) on double fives (5-5). Her backed-up bets with wins issued higher returns. Double fives (5-5) came out twice, paying, 10-1.

Playing like a maven she grabbed the attention of Joe Rizzo and Vito too. They had her pegged—small time but nevertheless. Besides the theatrics, with a particular determination she laid down the money.

On the other side stood two Hispanics, small men with dark features with shifting eyes darting in various directions. They wore worried looks. Mostly in silence they collaborated in a coded manner, signaling to each other with short nods. When one placed a chip, he’d turn to his compadre for sign, using an esoteric game plan. They ground out a profit.

When the dice rolled in their favor, they mouthed a quiet, “mejor.” When the dice went the other way, they replaced the Spanish adjective with its Hispanic counterpart “pejor.” Other than those two words they said nothing.

Next to them, stood a nice-looking man dressed in an expensive suit, more of a lone ranger. His hair slicked, similar to the hairstyle worn by Pat Riley. Johnny gawked twice, so to determine that it really wasn’t the famous-basketball coach.

It couldn’t be Riley. The guy sucked hard on his filtered cigarette. In between the rolls the smooth guy glanced over his padded shoulder as if he was expecting somebody. He bet somewhat heavy; a hundred dollars at a clip. He paid little attention towards the immediate outcome. At times he had to be reminded to pick up his winnings. Once noticing he won, he’d just clench his fist in front of his chest in quiet celebration. The sharpie was killing the house. His bets oscillated between the Pass-Line and the Do-Not-Pass Line.

The subjective Joe Rizzo, kept one eye on the fat broad, then shifted his other peeper on the smooth guy. The man’s panache annoyed Rizzo.

Johnny kept his own eyes on the table, the chips, and smack on the dice. Towards the patrons he scanned an assortment of cigarette-puffing, gum-chewing, and face-picking goings-on, a dice table’s grab bag of nervous ticks. He’d hear the sorry moans from the losing and the cheers of the winning. The hoots and the let downs meshed into one long whine.

One of the Hispanic men controlled the dice after a table clearing, #7 appeared. He rolled an eight. The marker was placed on, #8. The bets were laid and backed up.

Bets were thrust on the field, and most of the hard numbers were covered. The Come Line was laden with a couple-of-hundred dollars in chips.

At the far end of the table, an older-fat man in dark-rimmed glasses clamped his hands in anticipation and nervously mouthed a cigar. With lip action the stogie moved from side to side. The Hispanic man gave the older man one short glance before shoving off the dice. Nonchalantly he tossed the dice.

Vito rocked slightly and spun errant chips in the palms of his hands.

Joe Rizzo wore a scowl.

Johnny’s eyes covered his territory.

Crowley yelled, “No more bets!”

The Pat Riley look alike casually gazed in the opposite direction while taking an extra strong drag off his smoke.

The fat lady belted out, “Oh, goodness!” And so . . . the numeric opera continued.

The dice settled on lucky #8.

The old man chose that particular round to be contrary and played along with the house on the Do-Not-Pass Line. He was rooting for a table-clearing #7. He muttered, “Mercy, me!”

The table whooped it up! The Hispanics in unison mouthed a low, “Mejor!” Crowley shouted out “#8!” just-in-case somebody wasn’t paying attention.

There were sighs of relief and jubilation, except for a mutter of defeat coming from the old man. Vito, Crowley, Johnson and Johnny moved about the designated piles of chips.

Johnny’s job—to–snatch up and reel in the losing bets first.

However, Johnny Lombardi missed the old man’s backed-up chip and left one plastic chip on its spot. While paying off he inadvertently paid the old man. Eagle-eye Rizzo picked up on the miscue.

“Hey! Who’s this guy, your father or something? Wha the fuck ya doing? We don’t pay out ‘Do-Not-Passers!’”

The curt retort put a damper on the table’s celebration. The fat woman could be overhead gasping out a shocking, “Oh, Goodness! . . How revolting!”

Johnny is a humiliated state retrieved the misgiven chips, and offered the old man a consolatory look. He dared not look into Joe Rizzo’s direction.

A casino employee, one named, Durnetz, approached the table to relieve Vito, whose turn it was to go on his twenty-minute-break. Joe Rizzo was also being relieved. As Rizzo was leaving his post, as he squeezed his way behind Johnny, he stage whispered, “Schmuck!”





Carl and Phil belly wagged into Bally’s Grand with remnants of the gulls dung still splattered across the fronts of their empty heads.

The casino crowd scurried about the lobby and hardly noticed the shitty-looking buffoons.

Both men’s eyes widened hearing the winning sounds of the slots. The rings, beeps and buzzes permeated from the main salon as their sounds merging with a snappy background music in the hotel-lobby.

The bells and buzzers indicated slot machines were paying off. The sounds were more like hardware store’s doorbell section out of whack, orchestrating a tinny rhapsody.

The length of the ringing in actuality is snide information aimed at the casino’s staff. Short rings announce small payoffs, namely $100 or less. For larger payoffs the rings varied in pitch and persisted for some time.

Casino policy: To let the stiffs wait next-to-their-machine, a designed perception. that a slew of payoffs are taking place.

Carl rubbed his beefy hands. “Listen to them!” he mouthed. His gait shifted into overdrive leaving Phil’s side, forcing Phil to step on it if he wanted to play catch up.

Phil shouted at breakaway brother-in-law, “Whatta ya wanna do first?”

Not bothering to look back Carl was like a tin magnet being drawn in search of a refrigerator.

Not bothering to look back and while facing straight ahead, “I don’t know, how much ya got?”

“Violet only gave me $50, but I got my stash, another $175, brought it along just in case, ya know?”

“Fuckin-A right! . . I brought mine too. I figured some how we’d find a way to split from them broads. I wasn’t counting on our birds. I got $300 but we gotta watch it, ’cause if Gloria didn’t pay for the room up front, I’ll hafta take care of that shit when we get back . . . Ha! That’s if we ever go back!”

Carl laughed, languishing at the notion that he may never have to return to Gloria and Violet, him living the rest of his life in splendor without the wife and brat kids, of course just after he had his mad hour.

“C’mon! Sounds as if the old bastards are hitting the slots. Let’s play some quarters, have a couple of tastes on Mr. Bally, and then we’ll have seed money so to roll some hot dice later.”

Phil’s demeanor: That of a cub scout on a day trip, along for the ride, giving his pal that subservient nod.

“Jesus!” complained Carl as he scanned the casino’s gaudy-decorated showplace.

Metallic, a wallpapered delta, with floor to ceiling mirrors, ostentatious, crystal chandeliers hung with the slot in juxtaposition lined up, shoulder to shoulder standing at attention a army of one-arm bandits.

Carl scowled at a sea of gray old fogies. “I thought they just bussed down the old fucks on weekdays.” Carl’s eyes took down to his Seiko, “It will be another two hours before they clear out.”

Countless elderly elbowed their way. Grannies and grandpas whose zest for life, and seemingly sole purpose, depended on the outcome of rotating icons.

Once those figures came to a spinning halt they flashed the results of the player’s efforts. But of course such occurs only after the insertion of a coin into the gambling devices. The results were illustrations consisting of cherries, lemons and other visuals referred to as bars.

The old timers clutched onto a dream or at least onto their paper-wrapped rolls of quarters. They gripped their wares with withered arthritic fists staying put in front of an iron monster or while roaming from machine to machine.

Those who stayed-put did so hours. They’d forgo using the rest rooms; superstitious, fearing the machine might look upon them in disfavor worrying that when they returned the slot may have all-of-a-sudden played a dirty trick by paying off the big one while they were away. So, they’d stay and suffer.

Some roamed like nomads, employing a scatter-gun effect.

The elderly kaplunked into the monsters a lifetime of savings or what was left over from their social-security checks. In no time the complimentary roll-of-tokens provided by the casino, while on the bus, while on the way down, had already been gobbled up.

How it goes. . . .

After letting go . . . sending the coin on a coin-friendly path if only to tickle the insides of the Buddha-like tummy, setting into motion the spinning, colorful icons . . . the chumps wait a few seconds, and maybe even look away in fruitful anticipation.

When they let go of that quarter it’s no longer theirs. That coin might never to see the light of day, at least not that particular day.

It’s a feeble effort to justify life might be worth living. They gaze up, straining their sore necks, lifting their tired eyes past their bifocals to see if they’ve hit a winner. If not . . . they set their own mechanics back into motion as the process goes on.

Personal items are plopped on their lap, clutched paper bags and jackets, and purses, purses with contents consisting of casino-issued lunch coupons, reading glasses, vials of blood-pressure medicine and a myriad of other essentials retired people carry.

Every casino in Atlantic City maintained a program to round up old people. The team effort boasted a high-profiled, mobile, and well-greased system, a diabolical plan to bus in easy-pickings 365 days a year into their legalized-fleecing parlors.

Hitler’s generals would have sacrificed a few divisions so to employ such a people-moving system. They chumps were bussed in from as far away as upstate Pennsylvania, upstate New York, and the other three-corners of New Jersey, and from down in Delaware, and further along the Chesapeake, and inside the city boundaries of Baltimore and Washington D.C., as hundreds-and-hundreds of bus loads, consisting of marked geriatrics were picked up at predetermined destinations.

When speaking of the complimentary quarters and lunch coupons, they’re just perks, lost-leaders, give-aways, enticing the old timers. The temporary enticements were merely crumbs before the big bad boys sucked them dry and trapped them inside their lairs, as the retirees were fixed for six-or-seven hours down there where the devil lives.

The morning in question had the geezers bright eyed and eager to go and perhaps escape the gloom of their mostly mundane lives. However, their rosy outlook wasn’t to travel off to see the gleam in their grandchildren’s eyes and they wouldn’t be on the excursion to take in the sun, surf or sand, and they didn’t go for a casual, carefree stroll on the boards, not for a breath of fresh air, but to maybe, maybe just for once hit the big one.

More than likely after almost being held-upside-down and having their pockets shaken they’re all gathered up and bussed out, sent back to drearyville, late at night, while being dumped back off at their original points of embarkation, perhaps at some lonely, dangerous-deserted intersection in North Philadelphia or Newark, New Jersey. They’d be almost tossed off the bus the same way gangsters dump stiffs after filling them full with lead. And the next day there’d be a fresh batch of elderly suckers all set to go to the chambers of Atlantic City.

So how could anybody feel sorry if the casino got ripped off for $45 million?

*    *    *

The big boys and actuaries have it all figured out. The age group are perfect targets—lonely old folks who relished a chance to socialize, to go on an outing, mostly because they’ve been deserted and left alone to rock away the rest of their shrinking lives by those who are supposed to be close family members and so-called loved ones and mostly because the devil lives and he knows how to tempt us and them.

In this instance he’s zeroed in on the senior citizens who are left to their woes of aching feet, feeble bodies and hardened bowel movements, and those stiffs who seek just a glint of promise.

On the most part they have no chance.

Oh, there were occasional winners, and the casinos publicity departments snatch at the opportunity to make a big whip-dee-do, like photographing the winner, showering them with lavishes!

Is it luck, good fortune, or a cold, calculated giveaway orchestrated by the slick-Willie casinos, or just tossed alms, tossed from the hand of Caesar? Bottom line: As far as the common man is concerned, the whole rotting system is set up against them.

*    *    *

Carl and Phil situated themselves directly in front of a bank of machines. A black girl wearing a purple-and-white, Bally’s tunic made her way down the crowded aisle-way with a pushcart filled with wrapped coins. Carl hoisted a twenty, signaling the change girl to stop. Phil cashed a ten spot.

“Look at the old bastards. See what happens when ya don’t feel like fucking anymore . . . I guess the only way ya can get your rocks off is by gambling.”

“I’ll never feel that way,” voiced Phil.

“Coffee? Juice? Soft drinks?” asked a cocktail waitress wading down the aisle. She’s was no chickie, but still maintained some of her girlishness. She wore a provocative tight-fitting outfit, more like a bathing suit, only tailored out of wool. The top was fixed in such a way, her bust-line protruded.

Earlier, at home, she squirmed herself into the dark fishnet stockings. Their woven net wrapped around her legs as the network cascaded down from a snug crotch line, nonstop while disappearing into the tops of her black high heels.

“Yeah, babe, over hear,” ordered Carl. “Give me a Scotch and water. . . Make it J & B. . . .” Carl’s fat sweaty face turned on a grotesque charm as Carl further said, “Looks to me ya should be serving a lot of Geritol.”

The cocktail waitress let out a weak smile, more or less wondering what the tip might be.

Phil ordered, “Say, miss, may I have a Bud-lite,” and at the same time so to mimic Carl, he asked, “And I’d like to ask you something else if I could, do these old-fogies tie-it-on or what? Ya know, with the free booze and all?”

She came to life and was more open toward Phil, probably because he called her miss. “Not really, mostly it’s decafe or Sanka. All and all they’re tea-toddlers but sometimes I wish they would drink ’cause they get pretty cranky. I’m vying to get back to the main floor where the tips are better.”

She’s planted the seed.

Carl interjected, “Look, babe! Take care of us and you’ll make plenty of tips! Today we’re gonna hit!” Carl motioned to his forehead. “Hey, this ain’t make up! How’d ya like the bird dung? We just had a fresh load land on us while on the beach!”

The waitress broke out into a wider smile and appeared amused. “Oh, I’d hafta say, it’s becoming. Most of my customers aren’t so smooth.”

“I know you’re pestered by a lot of pretty boys but looking around here I’d say that me and my-man, Phil, are the two studs in this pasture.”

The waitress laughed more and said, “I was kind of wondering, you two don’t look like Hari Krishna types.”

She panned the floor and further said, “It’s true, you two are the picks of the litter.” With that said, she went off to retrieve their drinks.

Carl and Phil began to drop quarters. After the first drop, and as long as it took for the three symbols to spin independent to each other, and to come to a synchronized stop; three, cherry symbols came to a parallel halt! Carl hit a forty-quarter payoff, a $10 winner! “Attah, baby! See, buddy, see! . . Today’s our—”

The words hadn’t finished dripping off Carl’s lips when Phil’s machine delivered and paid off! Out came another bevy of quarters. Phil’s machine showed four lemons facing him in the same row for $25.

“Shazzam, Sam!” Phil shouted with glee. “Holy, shit, Carl, two quarters and we’ve already made $35! Oh, for the life of sea gulls! Oh, them gulls! Shit on me. Shit on me!”

Carl, “We’ll bang these awhile, then when we’re ready, we’ll go have our mad-hour on the tables. Who knows, maybe the tootsie bringing us the drinks has a girl friend, and later on if we play our cards right we can pick them up and maybe do a little sheet-pressing with the bitches if ya know what I mean.”

Phil, “Do ya think that sort of thing goes on down here, I mean with the help?”

“C’mon, pal, whattaya live in a monastery, that’s what the whole thing’s about. These cocktail broads recognize big winners when they see ’em. Why do ya think she even gave me the time of day? She was talking to us in a nice way . . . When you’re picking up women that’s the first sign, and did ya notice; she even gave me some palm action?”

“Palm action! Wha the fuck ya talking about, Carl?”

“I heard somewhere, if a woman shows you her palms that it’s actually a come on. Now, you listen to me. Bear that in mind, and once we start taking some serious money off of this casino, she’ll smell the blood in the water and in no time she’ll be all over us. Wait and see she’ll be giving me Chevas rather than J & B. You watch old Carl in action. When she comes back, I’ll strike up another conversation; if she continues to show me her palms and then if she goes so far and shows us her arm pits by fixing her hair or something, well then, buddy, then there’s just one more pit to expose.”

“Get out!” said Phil, far from sold.

Carl remained determined. “We’ll each give her two bucks, that will impress her. These old bastards don’t give the broads jack shit. Listen to me, I’ll get the low down on her. You watch old Carl, he knows how to talk to the bitches.”

Phil took in Carl’s rhetoric and nonsense about palms and armpits. He absorbed the spoken words while continuing to deposit 25-cent-piece, after 25-cent-piece, did so relentlessly in assembly line fashion. Why should he give any mind to what Carl was saying? He had heard his brother-in-law run his mouth for years. He’d pretend to listen. It cost nothing, there was no heavy lifting, and every once-in-a-while Carl was right-on. So he pasted a smile on his placid face and faked interest, choosing for his own reckoning what he wished to absorb and what he wished to discard.

The waitress returned with a smile.

“There ya go, hope you don’t mind, I got you a Chevas instead of J.&B. Ya know, how could I resist a man who wears such a facial, a gentleman such as you must have discriminating taste.”

The woman didn’t have Phil’s beer on the tray. Phil piped in, “Where’s mine?”

“Oh, you’ll have to excuse me.” Then redirecting her attention towards Carl, “I’m going on break, however, my relief-girl, Vivian is bringing out your handsome friend’s Bud-lite, just for him.”

Carl sounding disappointed, “Are you off for the day?’

She adjusted an earring in their presence then lifted her arm up higher to twiddle with her hair. “No, silly, just on break, Vivian and I are on duty til 11:00. We’ll be working the slot area til 8:00 and then on craps ‘til we’re off at 11:00.”

Carl sucked-in his gut and extended his chin, “I suppose you two gals have a full Memorial Day weekend all planned out?” The waitress, whose nametag said, Bunnie, put the drink tray on top of a machine and further toyed with her hair, doing so with both arms raised while exposing both armpits. She flicked a weak smile and retrieved her tray, and curtsied a bit. “Well, actually, Vivian and I were just talking about what we were going to do tonight when we get off. But we have nothing special planned. What are you two guys up to?”

Carl wasn’t missing a beat, “Oh, my junior partner and I are in the Atlantic City for the weekend. We just got in, took in a little sun, thought we’d just bum around for the early evening. We’re from New York, we’re architects, in the construction business, we’re the principals in a firm named after us, Fisher and Taylor. I’m Carl Taylor, he’s Phil Fisher.”

Phil pasted a big grin on his face.

“Ooh, I could tell you weren’t just plain truck drivers or into something stupid. Putting up buildings, ooh, it must be so . . . so . . .” She laughed nervously, “Oh, pleased to make both of your acquaintances. I’m gonna go now, but I’ll be back on the floor in twenty minutes. Oh, we’re not supposed to fraternize with the customers but you two seem so real.”

She wasn’t five feet away when Carl elbowed Phil. The grin on his face couldn’t be wiped clean. “I’m telling ya! I’m telling ya! Just what have we done—hit the Lotto or what? First, it’s the birds, then the slots are hitting, and now the broads are coming on, and they’re even showing armpit!

“Buddy boy, this is going to be a killer night, and it’s all in front of us.”

Phil had such a gleam in his eye he hadn’t been able to utter a word, he remained star struck. He gushed, “Yeah-yeah! Yeah-yeah,! yeah-yeah!”

Just then, the relief girl, the one who was pinch-hitting for Bunnie delivered Phil’s Bud-lite. She was a tall, blonde, more glamorous than Bunnie.

“Sorry I took so long. This Bud must be for you.”

She smiled at Phil. “I’m, Vivian, Bunnie told me about you two lucky guys, told me you’ve been touched by the gods in the sky, we’ve seen it before. Oh, I’d say you two got a good dose. It becomes you.”

Phil couldn’t keep silent any longer. “So, miss— ”

“Call me, Vivian,” she insisted.

Phil complied, “So, Vivian, does this happens often, ya know, guys getting dumped on, then they clean out the house, huh?”

His silly looking puss contorted by the circumstances of events, and Carl, while watching his brother-in-law stopped to consider, he never witnessed Phil, in 15 years with such a brilliant look on his mug.

Vivian bit onto her bottom lip. “I don’t see it happening often to tell you the truth. But when I have, parties concerned did real well, if you know what I mean. . . .” Her lips parted somewhat and she maintained a heavy look and stared at Phil provocatively and set forth her shoulders. “Look,” she whispered and looked around, “I have to be making my rounds. Bunnie will fill me in on what’s up later. Caio for now.”

Phil who couldn’t contain himself, and when she was only four-feet away he exploded with anticipation. “Holy, fuckin shit! Can you believe this? What a babe she is, and imagine, she’s mine!”

Carl became furious, “What the fuck you talking about, you fucking-flaming asshole? She’s nobody’s. Besides, she’s taller than the other one and I’m taller than you.”

“What the fuck’s that have to do with it?” shot back Phil.

Carl put on a face. “Don’t forget! We want this thing between the four of us to be in the right proportions, don’t we? It would look silly, her walking around on your arm and the other on mine. We’d be all out of proportion. We’re supposed to be in fucking construction, remember. We’re highfalutin architects. You with the taller blonde and me with the shorter one would look bad for the image. Architects wouldn’t walk around with broads out of proportion, especially if they were partners out on a double date.”

“Wha the fuck you trying to feed me, Carl? We’re two dweebs with seagull shit dripping off our foreheads, we’re fat guys pretending to be some sort of New York professionals, and we’re trying to hustle two-fucking waitresses for Christ’s sake, doing so while our wives are blocks away, cooped up in a run-down rooming house with a bunch of screaming kids. We’ve got less than $500 between us. We’re barely dressed. Look at ourselves, us wearing plaid, stretched-out Sears and Roebuck bathing suits with conflicting striped shirts no less, mine has battery acid eating away at this pocket here, and we’re both sporting smelly sneakers and you’re talking with your breath smelling like dog shit, like we’re going to be the toasts of the town!”

Carl attacked back, “That’s why you’ll always be a little man, Phil! ‘Cause ya think small. Ya think ittzy-bitsy, teeny-weeny thoughts. All you see is negatives. Let me ask you something—when wuz the last time you wuz in a casino, drinking for free, up real money and had two bombshells think you wuz some kinda big deal? . . . I’ll tell ya when—NEVER!

“So, shut the fuck up, before I have to come up with some b.s. story and bring up the part where we’ve been blessed with some-kind of divine intervention and shit like that. Look, asshole, if ya want to have a great time, just let me call the shots! After we take a couple of G-notes from the dice table, I’ll outfit you in some of them fancy duds they sell in that faggot salon that stays open around the clock. Hey, see if you’re still complaining when we strut out this place with them two bums on our arms, me with the blonde, and you with the brunette. See how much of a low life you feel you are then, when one of these broads is sucking ya to the root? Why, my man, we’ll be styling!”

*    *    *

Phil, as usual, was thrust back into his second-banana spot. As much as it hurt him to admit, much of what Carl said was true, and he capitulated and became almost sold and somewhat resolved. It had always been Carl who seemed to call the shots and up to this point, at least on that outing, so-far, so-good.

Phil ceased from tossing money into the monster’s mouth. Phil lifted his Bud-lite as to offer a make-up toast. He talked to himself and stage whispered primarily uttered for Carl’s benefit. Ending with,”. . . blonde, brunette, red head, short-tall, whatta I give a fuck?”



I’m about to mosey through the casino. I’ve had a couple of belts of Sambuca Romano. I savor its flavor. It helps. I light a smoke and take a drag.

I’m doing this for me and I’m doing it for Carrie!

I turn on my bar seat and peer out onto the casino’s floor. I eyeball the area where the roulette tables sit. My vision starts framing locations; rays of my vision ricochet off of wandering people, off peoples’ behinds, off gaming tables, off fast-moving cocktail waitresses, and off the playing crowd in general.

At the far end of the casino there are electronic signs, they give away the roulette locations belonging to the devil’s lair.

The electronic scoreboards are about 18-inches wide, and three-to-four feet in length going up and down. Their backgrounds are constructed of black plastic. Lit numbers register the outcomes of the last 20 spins. Red lights flash the made red numbers, white lights contrasting against the black, represent the black winners, and the green depicts that the number zero or twin zeros had materialized.

I going to monitor roulette then bang ’em for seed money before I go after the big-time on the craps table. I’ve decided to act more like a bystander, watch the wheels spin for a time rather than just come out swinging.

Carrie wouldn’t want me rushing into anything. So, I’ll relax and have a couple more drinks. Then I’ll ease into it, I’ll play some #11s, and other action numbers I’ve cataloged inside my think tank.

It’s been my experience that certain roulette numbers surface for a brief period, doing so mysteriously before they fade back to obscurity.

All numbers come out one time or another but one can’t go-home-as-a-winner by playing numbers that only hit now and then. However, if there’s an outbreak, an epidemic, a few can then begin to make their presence known.

Guessing the sequence is usually impossible to predict. The casino is hip since roulette pays 35-1. The casinos are well aware if a player’s numbers begin to turn up with any sort of frequency there’s an opportunity to earn a substantial amount of money in a short period of time.

*    *    *

I’ve decided which numbers I’m going play. I’ve had already figured them out while at the bar. I’m going to play numbers making-up today’s date: May 28, 1995.

I possess some knowledge when it comes to numerology. Here’s an example of my approach. May, 28th, 1995—or if you will—5-28-1995—I’ll tally up the date in numerical order, so to choose today’s lucky numbers.

C’mon! Figure it out with me. . . . Ya start off with the #5, which represents May, then add that number to the #2, which is half of the (28) since today is the 28th.

Your first subtotal is #7, the culmination of the #5-and-the-#2.

Now add the sub-total-7 with the other half of the day’s date — 28. Add the #8 to the #7 and our new subtotal is #15.

OK! We’re finished with the month-and-day part. To discover our destiny number we’ll add on the 1995 part, first by adding #1 to our subtotal of #15, now we have #16. Ok, place the first #9 from 1995 and add that number to #16. We’re at #25. Add on the other #9. That bumps the figure up to #34. We’re almost finished. Place on the last number which is the #5 and our total is #39!

We’re not quite finished. Factor it: The 3 + 9 = #12, then break it down to a #3. Today is a 3-day. It’s as easy as pie #3 is our primary number today.

So, I’ll be looking for a table with an electrical scoreboard that has registered #12s and numbers such as #1s, #2, and #9s, representing the #3 and #9s that we both factored out to #12. I’ll also play #24 and #36. I always make it a habit to play lucky #7. Therefore, my primary numbers are covered.

Religiously playing those numbers aren’t necessarily etched in stone. If some other numbers become hot, I’m apt to change my strategy.

*    *    *

The spinning roulette wheel has 38 slots or compartments. Eighteen of them are black numbers. Eighteen are red. Two others, a #0 and a #00 slot also make up the numbers on the peripheral of the wheel. The numbers aren’t set in numerical order. It’s a mixed salad of digits.

Many bettors wager solely on the outcome being either red-or-black, a game in itself, having nothing to do with the out-coming numbers.

The playing of red-and-black pays even money. The two-green spaces are a blatant edge favoring the house, a place where both red and black lose, it’s just another way the house gets them.

There are many ways to play a roulette table, rather than by placing bets on specific numbers. One can play odd-or-even, or grids, referred to as thirds. There’s a plethora of games on the roulette table.

As for me, I prefer the big payoffs.

I ease through the field of gambling fiends, hands in pockets. Poised, I halt while standing a few-feet away from the action. Pit bosses give me the once over. The honchos have an innate ability to sniff out degenerates such as me, degenerates who are dangerous men, more-than-willing to throw caution to the wind. They’re hip how the pendulum swings both ways. The synergy can rapidly shift; things can get ugly. Pit bosses, if given a choice, would prefer not to have my action; we aren’t usually worth the grief or the headache.

I gaze at the electronic scoreboards. On one particular table my numbers have flashed at least seven times out of the last 20 spins. Thirty-three-black has come up three times. I recall how #36 red used to be Louie Zerillo’s favorite number.

I reminisce, recalling Louie’s honeymoon story. This very spot I bet is where Louie and I would have been while-his or my-bride would have been upstairs, reduced to tears, chewing her nails, and aging with worry.

I’ve watched Louie drop a bundle on that fakatan number.

Eleven-black is a recent number, so is the red-#7 and #24-black has come out twice. I’m sold!

I’ll test the water.

Ok. Ok! . . . No more fucking around! “This is for us Carrie! I love ya. baby! It’s now or never.”

As usual I’ve spoken under my breath. I don’t wish other people to see me as a fool. Of course you already know I am, but you’re not there, you’re here, with me.

I prefer to create a mystical effect to disguise my chinks, to play it real cool. Shortly, after I begin to bang numbers, I’ll desire that the table’s spectators begin to wonder about me. I’d prefer them to be curious about who I am, about what makes me tick, so forth and so on.

I fork over two one-hundred-dollar bills, so to exchange the currency for chips.

Because the wages mingle with those of others each player is issued their-own special-colored chips, so to be differentiated. Rather then getting my own special color, I request the croupier permit me to play with red, five-dollar casino chips.

No one else is playing $5.00 chips at the table. The pit boss is a good egg and Oks my not-so-unusual request.

Inside casinos, pit bosses Ok almost everything. The rules state that their Ok is essential.

Each pit boss acts more or less as a herdsman, and depending on the game, they have absolute authority over a number of tables. They referee disputes between gamblers and croupiers, rate people and they’re the first line of communication between gambler and the big boys upstairs.

They’re both the man’s and the devil’s eyes.

As they butterfly from table to table many requests are made for approval.

After hearing a request, while they roam their territory, they usually give their approval by just shouting over their shoulder with a, ‘go-ahead, or an ‘Ok.’ . . . what sounds to a casual observer as disinterested, them pretending to be relaxed and oblivious to the goings on. Don’t let their lazifairre kid you. They’re eagle-eyed vultures, the devil’s own eyes and ears.

Whenever a substantial amount of chips go out, or when serious cash comes in, no transactions take place unless given the go-ahead by the pit boss. It’s dictated, pit bosses approve payoffs more than $35.

Before any further play or exchange of funds takes place the croupier freezes, keeping their eyes straight ahead and their ears listen closely for the go-ahead.

After the go-ahead, my croupier slides towards me four piles of chips. Each pile consists of $50 worth, 10-in-a-stack. He’s nice-and-courteous, wishes me luck, more than that he calls me, sir. With authority I place red chips on #s: 1, 3, 7, 8, 12, 24 and 36.

There are 36 red-and-black numbers, plus the #0, and #00, adding up to 38 possibilities.

My present wager: A 7-out-of-38 shot. I must remind, you, the whole ball of wax is a combination of good-timing, luck, money-management, vibe and demeanor. It’s a complicated science!

The bottom-line in my case when it comes to odds are 5 1/2 to 1.

From the first spin one must consider there’s a mighty force to contend with. It’s essential to humble one self and offer up a certain amount of respect toward our enemy’s strengths or defeat is inevitable.

I’m playing alongside six other players.

Most apply their own chosen method. Some are simple others purely mad. Some plop chips on just a few numbers and hold tight. Others are erratic as they spread their soon-to-be losing money on just about every number. Their thoughts, the more numbers played, the likelihood one will have a higher chance of hitting, an expensive route to take. Such extravagance will reduce one’s bottom line.

Some players press their bets by pressing; I mean after they observe particular numbers manifesting, players double their bets.

I employ this method and find the practice pragmatic, but only do so after I hit that specific number. As stated, 35-to-1 payoffs rack up.

*    *    *

The action is now live.

I’m involved. The wheel spins. Precious little time is afforded for players to place down chips. The croupier comes to life. He slowly waves his hand across the chips. The croupier waves as if he’s some high-priest blessing the table. While the wheel spins the white ball is a-bouncing. In a dignified manner he says a holier-than-thou, those defining words, “No More Bets.”

The earlier thrust white-plastic ball runs in the opposite direction of the spinning wheel and gives way to gravity. The ball loses velocity. The ball teeters and begins to drift downward to situate itself in the midst of the numbered compartments.

The ball enters the number zone, heads toward and bounces off two numbers, flirts with #5, and finally places itself firmly in the midst of the black, #17.

“Yeah!” shouts half the table. Number 17 is well represented, a favorite number. I play #17, black, often. It’s just that this time, I’ve chosen not to play #17.

Strangely, it might seem, I prefer not hitting the first time out. I’ve found in the past the rush is temporary. My history says hitting the first number has been the eventual kiss of death.

One point I stress; while gambling, emotions must be kept in tack, to remain stone faced, enthusiasm is helpful, but remember it’s not a romance. Ya just can’t fall foolishly in love with a number the same way a fool such as I has fallen for a Carrie, or a Mik, or whoever.

My sense places me on duty. Sharp as I am, I’ve cataloged the #17 hit. If the #17 continues to show, I’ll soon enough be there.

I’m out $35, that’s seven chips.

Without fanfare, I duplicate my earlier bet.

Players set their chips.

Again the wheel spins and the croupier goes through the ritual.

Again, the process is in play? He mouths, “no more bets.”

Bang! It’s #12!

After the croupier scoops up the losing player chips, $175 in red chips are being scooted toward my side of the table.

Lets take a quick tally! Here’s where I stand after two spins.

I started with 40 $5-chips, the house has gotten 13 of them back. I just won 35, so I have in my possession the total of 62 chips. I’m up $110, that’s 22-more chips than I began with!

I go with my game plan, and decide to press the #12. Remember, I’ve just placed another back-up chip on the #12.

I’ve predetermined, during each instance one of my numbers have hit, I’ll double the bet, just in case the digit shows any signs of redundancy. The strategy is simple—you’re hot or not. As of this point, rather than risking 7 chips, I now have 8 chips wagered on the next roll; one chip firmly placed on each of my regular numbers, and two chips situated on the #12.

Holy Toledo! It’s back-to-back! #12—WINNER!

Because I pressed, remember the gamblers term? Because I have two-$5 chips on the winner, the croupier gives me a wink, dignifies my presence—for me it’s a rush as if I’m something special.

I receive the same ‘way-to-go’ gesture from the pit boss. An emotional boon shines on me from the other players in envy, hoping selfishly that maybe some of my emerging luck might rub off. Some begin to align themselves with me, bet where I bet. They’re with me.

They of course have no scope about the repercussions and what I’m willing to face if I don’t win big tonight. On the insides I’m scared shitless. I’m slid a smooth $350! My war chest has ballooned after three spins to a whopping $680.

Two more spins go by and nothing significant happens. Double zero arises and then a punk #4. Yet, during the third spin a lady next to me, who had placed a fat-dollar riding on #24, begs out loud for the #24 to appear . . .

There’s a moment of anticipation—a moment of silence after the, “No-More-Bets” all eyes follow the bouncing ball as it skips its way, bounces and frolics against the spinning wheel’s grain so to rivet in and rivet out, and then to finally find the sought-for, double digits. Presto!

#24 emerges as a winner! . . . $175 in chips come my way, thank you, very much.

Bear in mind I’m still wagering a single chip on the virgin numbers, but on my icebreakers, the #12 and the #24, I then place $10. Three spins later the #8 hits and joins my list of icebreakers, and then I hit on a #3-red!

I’m on a roll!

In my possession is most of the red-chip inventory belonging to that particular table. Rather than paying me off with red chips, the croupier, with a strong hint from the pit boss decides to pay me off in black and some green chips. The black chips represent hundreds’ and the greens’ represent $25.

Two-hours pass. I’m drinking like a fish but still maintain my manners and more important, my edge.

Believe it or not, there have been times when I’ve become obnoxious at a table. I’ve sadly discovered that sort of behavior prompts people to root against me. It’s best to remain polite and bring as little attention as possible toward one’s self, except of course, only to bring attention to one’s self by winning.

New arrivals notice $20 to $30 on each number. That sort of wagering fixes me as a high roller.

The pit boss has twice asked if I wish to be rated.

Being rated by a casino is an accumulative process where the casino monitors your play, and one is issued a special, plastic card, and whenever one gambles, they hand the card over to the pit boss, and by playing for periods of time or placing higher wagers, enabling the rated players to gain points with the casino, and the player is able to receive perks; show tickets, complementary meals and even lodging, and many other amenities which casinos provide high rollers.

*    *    *

My numbers are hitting with regularity; the chosen digits have manifested themselves, except for Louie Zerillo’s #36-red.

*    *    *

Here’s what the numbers look like on a roulette wheel.

1 2   3

4 5   6

7 8   9

10 11   12

13 14   15

16 17   18

19 20   21

22 23   24

25 26   27

28 29   30

31 32   33

34 35   36


During a glitch, you’ve been away, and you have, and most of my chosen-few have made cameo appearances during at least 4-to-6 occasions. I’ve soared, standing there with a pocket full of black chips worth somewhere around $3800.

I’ve been one not to ignore omens. I was going with the flow. By then I’ve plunked my money down on the earlier-hit #17-black, of which I could no longer ignore; I adopted the two more digits into my numerical family. I had three-chips smacked square in the middle of that hushpuppy of a number.

By then, the combination of one-seven showed its face five times since our initial arrival.

You missed seeing me win three of the times. (Maybe you haven’t been away, but ya gotta watch me, I’m lightning quick!)

If there, you would have noticed I placed additional chips in other areas on the board.

I did halfies. I hedged my bets by playing corners. Meaning, I dropped stacked chips on: 1st Street, 7th Street, 31st Street and 34th Street. I have #17 hooked with #13-#14-#15 situated above, and #19-#20-#21, situated in a row below. Within the immediate vicinity of #17, my total wager is $35, or a total of seven chips. If #17 appears, I receive 67 chips, $335! If the #14, or #20 connects, my return 16 chips—$80, and if the #13-#15-#19-#21 arrives $40 is returned to me.

Along with the rest of my action, I had somewhere between $125 and $175 up on the table, a far cry from the safe $35 we started out wagering.

Wages on streets?

I placed four chips in a stack on 1st Street, placed just to the left in a neutral area across from the first row consisting of #1, #2 and the #3. Any 1-2-3 hit pays me 12-1, plus I had $25, that’s five-chips straight up on the red-#3. Payoff — if the #3 hits—it’s $875 for the direct hit and then an additional $240 for betting on the appropriate street.

I was number shopping and then I’ve had big eyes for the black-#2 and #33 black. I was splitting numbers in half, namely the #29 and #30, both were beginning to strike pay dirt. I was making what could be considered as big money, heavy on the main ones, then perhaps recouping my ante, when I hit the secondary numbers, those with merely a single chip resting on them. I was building baby; I was building!

Almost every spin brought me some-sort-winning combination, payoffs, including the 35-1s, and 12-1s, or even, 8-1s. With a number of chips placed at my disposal I was able to make up for particular spins which lost, and it seemed as if, after every spin, one of my chips was located somewhere. If I missed, it seemed as if I picked up a peanut gallery and there were groans of disappointment from the adoring crowd. I stood firm!

I had hardly given Carrie any thought, or even that sorry-ass Mik, or any of the other whores who have fucked up my life. I became able to X-out most of my woes. With me living vicariously for once, through myself, because of my own bravado, I was armed with the knowledge, and chocked with infinite enlightenment once absorbed from Won Su’s, The Art of War.

Despite my lofty mood the awareness seeped in, that the devil was watching me. I was on to him. It was his devious plan to suck me in, so to come back at me with non-forgiving vengeance.

He’s a hip buggar, a vile spit into the face of the human spirit, and the scum monger that he is knows all about greed—he invented it.

He fully realizes how piss ants such as myself can be hoodwinked, envisioning themselves as masterful or feeling invincible, and he knows they’re capable to take a major fall if left as the masters of their own destiny. In reality, he, after he divvies out to us peons pittances of gains, or while he plays possum and permits us to take a couple of swats and get away with it. Then he orchestrates his own officious will. Don’t be fooled, fool! The devil’s just biding his time and is packing a lethal punch.

*    *    *

Number 12! That’s $1050 coming my way. The roulette spinner, then gleaming with a genuine smile that said, “My, man you’s a big-time winner.”

He dishes out two-purple chips, chips worth $500 each, and in addition, he’s laying two greens in front of me. Next spin has me placing seven-red chips ($35) on the #11-black, and the beat goes on.

I’m taken, in the midst of my mental tabulations, measuring my gains, I hit the #7 with $20 straight up! There’s a nickel chip on all four sides and my return is $860. I’m up serious money to the tune of $12,600.

On a regular outing that would have been dandy; fun-money, limo-money, hooker-money, drug-money, whatever, but these are different times. However, I realize $12,600 will only band-aid my financial woes. Even if I send the gross amount in to the IRS, same as loan sharks, they’ll just snatch it, and threaten for me to fork over more. “Get some more or there will be some break-your-arm trouble.”

The 12-six will merely plug a dam break, keep me inching, keep me miserable for a few-more, lousy-lonely months, with only enough to vehemently spread additional inner pain over a stale-stale life with a blazing hot knife.





At precisely 3:30 Louis Virgo checked into the Bally Grand along with his luggage. Two of his compatriots already entered the hotel and were milling around and gambling at the very-craps table Johnny Lombardi worked, the one directly in front of the cash cage.

Virgo, after checking in, departed the hotel casino took a walk down the boardwalk. He entered a near-bye restaurant for an early dinner. Knowing his tentative schedule, it may be hours before his next meal.

Virgo, a man without habits, preferred to dine no later than 6:30. He usually dined alone and rarely cooked. Always the epicurean he’d try the cuisine at The Knife and Fork Restaurant, a famous Atlantic City eatery.

Despite being a man of enormous means, he’d take advantage of the early bird special. With him he carried a hard-bound copy of Steven King’s latest best seller.

A waiter in a white dinner jacket seated the illustrious Virgo without the slightest clue. Virgo, with impeccable manners, thanked the waiter and with interest scanned the extensive menu. His eyes darted, capturing the restaurant’s offerings and he smacked his lips anticipating the scrumptious-sounding appetizers and continued to smack his thin lips through the list of hardy entries.

He’d start with the snapper soup, of which he’d add a few drops of sherry, then he’d order the grilled halibut, precisely cooked, seasoned with fresh ginger; in addition, along with his entree was meshed a small portion of boiled potatoes, glazed with a light-rue and garnished with a sprinkling of fresh parsley. Spring peas and baby carrots swimming in sautéed butter rounded off the simple but excellently prepared dinner. An iced tea with two lemons and the contents from a packet of Equal washed the food down. No desert.

Everything in his mind was in place. For the next hour he’d clear his concerns and focus on quenching an appetite and engross himself in a good book. Now and then he raised his head.

He panned the restaurant’s middle-to-upper class patrons, always taking the time to look out for what might be telltale signs of trouble. Beyond taking those precautions he hardly paid mind to the other patrons.

With vile contempt he viewed most Americans as flighty, self-centered, spoiled children, who voiced strong opinions about almost everything. It particularly it annoyed him how they openly complained, not giving credence for a tranquil moment, showing no regard for the ears of those their complaints polluted. Of course he never gave any inclination or focused attention on himself. He ate slowly and barely lifted his evil eyes from his colorful meal.

*    *    *

Louis Virgo’s family maintained powerful Floridian ties. The Virgo’s kept a residence there up ‘til the mid-Seventies, they also brandished heavy-handed political influence in Washington.

As strange bedfellows, a chummy relationship flourished between the iron-fisted family and the American nation ever since 1898. An incident further forged the relationship and squarely placed upon the family a joining a-stamp-of-approval, back when the United States Government occupied Haiti in 1915.

After Virgo completed his stint at Oxford, the living heads of the family suggested to the young, Doctor Louis Virgo, he might attend the United States Military Academy at West Point.

His adopted home-state’s Senator arranged for the young man to enroll at the Point. Sebastian, his father, attended the institution. In the eyes of the elders, hopefully he’d follow his father’s footsteps and go up higher in rank than the retired, and-then-missing, Brigadier General, Sebastian Virgo.

At West Point Virgo breezed by. He finished third in his class, achieving an additional degree in Engineering, plus a commission as Second Lieutenant in the United States Army.

Louis didn’t take well to the stringency of military life. By being a pampered and spoiled brilliant elitist, he possessed his own agenda. His highbrow temperament added to his nonconformity. His dedication and success was surround with academics. By achieving lofty grades; tangents of the military establishment looked the other way, those accomplishments smoothed out some of his shortcomings.

When it came to obeying orders he cringed. He tolerated the discipline but didn’t appreciate nor adhere to it.

The Army: hard up in those days for whizzes. The establishment placarded an about face, permitting loose cannon of cadets to squeeze on through its gates and skate pass their honor system.

Soon after graduation, he was promoted to captain; not needing or bothering to serve the required time-in-rank, as a second lieutenant.

The Army, as much as it would have preferred, just couldn’t draft boys off the street and turn them into proficient doctors after eight weeks of basic training. The Army considered the promotion a standard practice in those days, to automatically promote any officer with a medical degree. The automatic acceleration in rank validated the importance the Army placed on M.D.s within its ranks. The armed forces found it difficult to recruit qualified people with such specialized training.

Two, thin-gold lieutenants bars, along with its measly and lowly status were considered by medical professionals as a step backwards. The least the government could do for already-achieved professionals was to bestow upon them the more respected rank of captain.

In 1967, while stationed at Fort Hood Texas, Doctor Louis Virgo was attached to a branch of Military Intelligence. He soon was contacted by a fellow American officer and indoctrinated into a secret society whose code word was: The Black Wing.

All had been arranged months before. He possessed made credentials. His family’s clout elevated him to the inner circles of power in the sinister group. His father Sebastian was the secret organization’s cofounder.

The Black Wing’s ranks were filled with professional cutthroats, extortionists, cloaked wolves in sheep’s clothing, falsely wearing their country’s uniform. They were far from being aligned with the caliber of men whose emotions unraveled and vibrated with chills up-and-down their spines, the types who would break out in goose-bumps while visiting and viewing the U.S. Marines bronze tribute paying honor to the rising of the colors at Iowa Jima after the bloody battle in W.W.II. There were no patriotic “lumps in their throats,” during the playing of taps. They felt no inspiration from the Spirit of 1776, nor were they taken by the sentiments of the Gettysburg Address.

Documented acts of righteous patriotism never tempered the Virgo’s or the Black Wing.

As far as they were concerned; the gumption required to hold back and stem the tide at places such as the Alamo, Vicksburg or Bastonge, were thought of by their kind as self-praising chapters out of American history books; where suckers fought, bled and died but didn’t become rich. Their code–solely to beat the system–line their own pockets.

The secret clan whose origins weren’t entirely under handed, but more-or-less a byproduct of an honorable thing gone bad, their sole interest long before 1967 was money and power.

The Black Wing remained their code name since a renegade troupe of U.S. Army officers banded together back in Haiti in 1922.

Originally they were a vigilante group, formed by Virgo’s father and another Hispanic officer, so to protect the rights belonging to lower-ranking officers. Their initial platform: to set up a defense for those minority officers, who bore the brunt of injustices and discrimination perpetrated against them. The original group consisted mostly of minorities, whose families, religions or nationalities were excluded from the perks offered to the privileged. A rebellious nature and ruthless street smarts scooted them to the front, muscling-in with the upper hand and the winning-edge.

Once they were convinced they could beat the system, and by W.W.II, most aspects of their original constitution and its benevolent ideas lay dormant, if not extinct. With calculating caution they infested the U.S. Army worldwide.

That big-war expanded their ranks with more unscrupulous officers. Soon many of them achieved higher rank and more prestige enabling them to expand their vile aspirations. By the Vietnam era they were deeply entrenched throughout America’s armed forces.

The U.S. armed forces at the time were no match, for either the North Vietnamese or the likes of the well informed and heavily financed Black Wing.

Lucky for them, when the Vietnam War escalated the ineptness and lack of competence within the flat-footed, fat-bellied, American armed force provided them with an uneven edge. By then they were fine-tuned and well–insulated within the higher echelons of the American Army; an organization in 1967 that was confused and grossly mismanaged.

Back then, ‘being all you can be’ was more of a setup, so to take a fall. The Black Wing involved itself in a mass conspiracy by weigh laying Army surplus supplies, railroad traffic, flights and truck convoys, steering them towards out-of-the-way destinations. Their operation manifested itself on an international scale.

When Captain Louis Virgo received his orders for Vietnam during March of 1967; orders assigning him, as an assistant to Chief of Staff in a Military Intelligence unit, he couldn’t of been more pleased. Unlike most dog faces of the day, he needn’t fear the possibility he’d ever have to eke out an existence while digging and sleeping in foxholes.

His future was well guarded. He wouldn’t find himself at the mercy of some gung-ho field commander either. Because of his rank, but more because of his privilege, he was insured safety Captain Virgo was guaranteed a certain ambience—-assured, having clean-living conditions insulated inside the air-conditioned comfy world contoured for a base-camp commando.

And if it did come to doing a some fighting or a little blood curdling killing, well then, he wouldn’t have minded. It wasn’t as if the then 26-year-old captain, full-of-bravado, might not relish an added opportunity, which may have had him running the cruel-steel end of his bayonet up-and-inside of some Oriental’s innards. He remained well equipped for combat, both mentally and physically. Virgo, far from being a shiny-faced cadet was not a man to be toyed with. Louis had a built-in mean-streak.

*    *    *

Virgo treated himself to an espresso after his tasteful meal. He dwelled on the past and thought about his most recent contracts.

He put down the novel, looked at his watch and thought about taking a long vacation. He had been extra busy. Virgo’s itinerary was taken up by the Sicilian Mafia and furthermore by the Libyan Government.

The circumstances dealing with one contract included rubbing out a newly appointed Italian prosecutor. The prosecutor urgently needed to be dealt with.

Paulo Bertilino had the Italian based Cosa Nostra concerned with him jailing mobsters on a quest as if he was seeking the Holy Grail, with him armed by the Italian Government with sweeping powers. He crusaded his way to the doorsteps of the higher ups in the Cosa Nostra.

Virgo gave the prosecutor strong marks. He wouldn’t be easy. His reputation, bright . . . honest . . . tough . . . he couldn’t be bought—-Palermo’s version of Elliot Ness.

During early June of ’94, Virgo staked out Palermo in search of Bertilino’s whereabouts. The prosecutor’s travel arrangements were strictly confidential. Bertilino—-capable of delegating authority, hardly ventured beyond the walls of his administrative offices. When he did, it was with suddenness, and with many guards.

Virgo studied a detailed biography on Paulo Bertilino, provided by benefactors. After weighing and sorting information, Virgo figured to get close enough to make the kill.

The chink in his armor, the prosecutor kept close ties with his aging mother. The mommy’s boy risked his cover to visit mama.

Virgo strolled through the Saturday-morning produce market. He hummed “It’s Now Or Never.” He meandered next to a wooden vegetable stand; he squeezed and picked out fresh tomatoes. He went out of his way to initiate small talk with the old woman who also shopped for fresh produce.

He pasted on his face an altar boy’s smile, acted gently, and touched the old woman’s heart when he spoke dearly about his own but passed-away, sweet mama. He blessed her and praised God, and boldly mentioned she so-reminded him of his own mama. The old woman spoke, she too had a son, said her boy loved her and craved ripe tomatoes. She voiced that Virgo reminded her of her dear boy.

Far from a fool, she’d dare not slip or leak a word about the visit. At 82, still sharp, sharp enough not to give away information that could harm her boy.

She didn’t have to say a word; she already tipped her hand. Virgo—well aware—she rarely left her home. Neighbors normally shopped for her. It was a lock! She didn’t want anybody to suspect she was ordering food for special company, so she would do it herself.

Bertilino’s mama purchased eggplant, aged Parmesan, scungiel and fresh fruits, essential ingredients belonging to her son’s favorite dish.

Virgo concocted his own recipe, a homemade favorite, with him serving up a dish of piping-hot death. He marked her. She forecast the impending Sunday-morning company.

The local constables couldn’t be trusted with such esoteric information, such as keeping a sharp eye out on the mother’s street.

At about 4:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, a Euro Ford packed with explosives, rolled up in front of the mother’s brick home. Only two blocks away, two patrolling policemen’s time and attention were taken up by a pair of ladies, who appeared to have had much to drink, as they shamelessly flirted with the constables, all arranged by Virgo to keep the coast cleared.

Chief Prosecutor Bertilino, along with his personal-security detachment of seven wouldn’t know what hit them when violently blown to smithereens before 11:00 a.m. that coming Sunday morning.

Just a street corner away, with a snake-in-his-pants, Virgo admired the bloody fruits of another twisted masterpiece.

Moments before, inside a hot pan lay mama’s red-ripe tomatoes simmering in garlic and onion with the egg plant swimming olive oil as it sautéed on a hot stove. At the same time, just before all hell broke loose mama hummed away, not able to shake ‘It’s Now or Never’ out of her head. She’d been humming the song since the day before.

With a slight push of a button Virgo ended peoples lives. Worse in some minds he destroyed the old woman’s relished chance to glow during a shinning moment, and broke her heart, and then the hideous act was enough to ruin the fineness of the tomato sauce. Her precious bambino lay broken and snuffed from existence.

Later last summer, while Lou hawked furniture and romanced Mik, and Phil and Carl swallowed down a truckload of beer, and while Johnny made it with those college girls, back then Virgo’s target became the head of Amnesty International, the benevolent watchdog organization.

That organization, while clamoring for justice, had become a special thorn in the side the regime residing in Tripoli. Amnesty’s board of directors cast an accusing finger and shed new-and-incriminating light upon Libya, including dastardly deeds perpetrated upon political activists and malcontents. They possessed undeniable proof indicting Khadafi himself.

Amnesty International rallied the U.N., the World Court, and the sympathizing sentiments of the international press, and they were turning public opinion against the North African regime.

Italian informants clued in Libyan security forces, revealing Helen Smirtz, the Chairwoman of Amnesty International would tour Italy.

Just outside picturesque Lake Como, as she made her way up the foothills leading towards the Alps, and while enjoying the breathe-taking vistas from her rented Renault, she would be murderously shoved over a cliff by the force belonging to a road-hogging BMW 850.

The ‘Beemer’s overpowering weight and tiger-pawed grip, showed as no match for the little round wheels belonging to her docile Renault. The BMW grit its teeth, letting out a low-pitched, bloodcurdling roar, as the madman behind the car’s wheel steered it along side the unsuspecting altruist.

Virgo savored the memory; a stunning portrait, framing in his mind her face in a state of terror; an extraordinary flashback, especially the way her expression switched from one of tranquil bliss to absolute terror, once she became airborne going over the edge to her doom.

He took a final glimpse; it was dick-gripping stuff.




                               CHAPTER 11


Carl and Phil’s shitty luck remained in tack. The bombing by the gulls showed good-fortune predictions and the fable holding true. They were ahead on the slots. The two cocktail waitresses had taken a liking and a possible score with the two not-so-fussy dames. By 6:30 their combined winnings: $300.

Up to that point, besides the beers on the beach, they had each slugged down at least four drinks. The two women surely anticipated some naughty shenanigans might be in store during the latter part of the evening unless they themselves had ulterior motives.

It had already been arranged that they’d go out later, perhaps to a few local spots. Bally waitresses weren’t permitted to patronize or frequent where they worked. The women mentioned some clubs in Margate, a place called Memories, where a local disc jockey by the name of Jerry Blavat spun oldies from the doo-wop era.

Carl and Phil—-two oafs—-two oafs with dried seagull dung smack on their inner-city foreheads and against most odds, despite being gauche, despite being fat asses, despite being rubes, low and behold they were about to embark on what described in their case were a pair of vivacious dates. There was no concern for Gloria, Violet or the kids, who were napping by then after stuffing their faces at a boardwalk pizzeria near the run-down, Ventnor, rooming house.

For the next hour the men hardly moved from the front of the slot machines. They could have posed for Norman Rockwell as a scene out of Americana . . .trance like, with cigarettes dangling off their lips and drinks close by, them going through the motions incessantly, mesmerized by the spinning wheels and spellbound by the lights and the pings and the whistles and the bells . . .

Phil’s stopped. He studied Carl.

By opening his mouth, Phil went out on a limb, making a move to take charge. “Say, Carl, I got an idea. Let’s cool it here just a bit. Whattaya say we get a bite in the cafeteria and have a relaxing beer?”

Carl made a face.

Phil continued, “Now don’t go getting pissed . . . I think it might be a good idea to form some sort of game plan here and think about where we’re going to go with these two broads once they get off. Then, let’s say afterwards, . . . between 8:00 and 10:30, then we make a run for that mad hour you’re always talking about?”

Carl looked pissed—Phil’s spiel had interrupted his rhythm. Carl barked, “What are you some sort of fuckin’ tour director?” Saying so without raising his shit face as Carl continued to drop quarters in the slot masking attentive interest with what Carl perceived as a dumb-sounding notion, annoyed that his usually meek brother-in-law might be making plans for him.

Yet Phil was unrelenting, “C’mon, don’t be that way, buddy, it only makes sense. Look, if we get bombed or start getting beat we’ll be too drunk to boff them two bums, or too-bummed out ’cause we lost all our money . . .”

Carl stopped him in his tracks, “What the fuck ya talking about . . . losing our money? This is it! We’re on a roll! This is our big night buddy-boy, money, booze and chics, chics who seem like they both have itchy twats and good-sized chitty-bang-bangs, Asshole. Look, shit-for-brains, this is the Memorial Day weekend! I don’t give a fuck about nothing! We’ve been waiting for a shot like this all our lives. Why would we want to stop now?”

“Come on, Carl, don’t be such a hard-nosed prick. Our luck will hold. I’m just saying. You know how we get. We get fucking sloppy. We’re friggin’ truck drivers for Christ’s sake. If them two bums show up and they’re all dolled up and we’re fucked up, you know what’s more than likely will happen . . . they’ll probably just dump us. . . . Hey, don’t get me wrong, Boss; I want some strange every bit as much as you . . . I’m just saying, if we take about an hour’s break we can make a plan and then go out there on the tables and do it to “The Man,” do it to him bad, just the way you’ve always planned, just the way you’ve always talked about.

“Ya think Eisenhower just went storming onto Normandy beach head? . . . no way, Man.”

Phil’s on a roll . . . “Look, a little chow for us to suck up some of the booze . . . and like I say, we can plan our strategy for the dice table. I could use a fat burger right now. And then we can go and have your mad hour. Who knows maybe even play the dollar slots and maybe even hit the Megabucks, and then buddy boy, well just maybe . . . maybe latter after we walk out of this place with pockets full of money and with two broads on our arms well then, my-man, maybe we’ll be doing some serious fucking.”

Carl ceased pulling down the handle. He studied his goofy-looking brother-in-law, a guy he normally considered as no more then a trusty sidekick and a hen-pecked dufus. However for the first time perhaps, old-dufus-face Phil appeared somewhat handsome despite his everyday hangdog look and despite the ridiculous wad of bird shit. The guy glowed.

Carl’s logic had no choice but to pick up on the sentiments coming off his buddy’s lips. He couldn’t help but admire the sincere calm tone in Phil’s newfound, commanding voice, and from-out-of nowhere, never-before-seen by Carl a glint of shining optimism shimmered in the reflection off Phil’s round, seamless, truck-driver’s face.

Carl never gave any credence that his brother-in-law could possess a segment of an original thought or a gleam of good looks. Yet at that moment, somewhat surprising, Phil went through some sort of transformation as a shaman, a sage, some ancient warrior king, rather than his normal set role he played as nothing more than a Tonto or Norton, or Barney, Fred Flintstone’s sidekick.

The boisterous bully subsided. The very likes of Carl Fishman couldn’t ignore the man’s foresight.

Carl sighed, “What the fuck, partner, let’s have it your way for once, let’s the two of us go and get a beer and a burger.” The fat man, satisfied with his give, pulled himself up off the stool, stood tall and gathered himself. He sucked in some of his gut, and yanked up his sagging, bathing suit, wiggling his bovine ass back into its seat’s place. Once satisfied, he flashed his own panache and displayed affection as he corralled Phil and placed a friendly arm around Phil’s shoulder.

Together, as a faithful duo trotted out of the casino, again taking on the convictions of La Mancha’s Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. They headed toward the coffee shop in the lobby of the Bally Grand with smiles on their faces and bird shit on their foreheads.

*    *    *

Vito sat in the employees’ lounge munching on his lunch plucked from inside a brown paper bag. The wife, Louise, packed him a tuna-salad sandwich on whole-wheat bread. As always, he admired how his wife of twenty years was a genuine Picasso when it came to assembling sandwiches.

As proficient as Vito was at handling casino chips, he couldn’t hold a toothpick or begin to wonder about how to build such a tasty sandwich. Her sandwiches were not only vital nourishment and packed tight with flavor; they were tributes and could have been inducted into the Sandwich Hall of Fame.

Vito once contemplated taking photographs and sending them off to House and Garden or some other homemaker digest. The ingredients were neatly crammed in such uniform fashion. He tried copying her recipes when she wasn’t at home yet his Leaning-tower of Concoctions looked more like the house that Jack built and they never came close to her Frank Lloyd Wright presentations.

He’d sit at his lunch seat as his rich brown eyes enjoyed the spectrum of color neatly fixed in between two pieces of bread; how the green, crisp lettuce’s contrasted so beautifully with the red, ripe, perfectly sliced tomato all tucked and layered atop one another ever-so precisely.

As usual the out-of-the-can tuna salad had been painstakingly prepped, drained, and mixed with finely chopped celery and Bermuda onion with just the right amount of mayonnaise. An added touch, from her Spring garden was minced bits of rosemary. Lastly was a shake of salt and fresh-ground pepper. Nah, he thought, nobody on Earth could make such an epicurean delight.

His fellow employees rubbernecked from their bench — there’s, usually store-bought or something so-so from their own kitchen, just grub hastily thrown-together. They’d sit drooling for just a sliver from one of those masterpieces that would be carefully unwrapped in front of them by Vito.

Their wishful thinking; Vito might-not be hungry, or better yet, he’d be full or even sick to his stomach and then one of them might be the lucky recipient to receive a handout.

Regardless, no matter the fair, be liverwurst and onion, baloney, ham-and-cheese, or even peanut butter and jelly, the sandwiches posed a certain flair second-to-none.

Joe Rizzo came storming around the corner flicking a smoking cigarette. In the other hand he clutched a cup of steaming-black coffee in a Styrofoam cup. Rizzo, despite his self-proclaimed status, wasn’t exempt from being eager to see what the wife packed Vito for that particular day’s lunch.

Rizzo never let-on, nor did he give away his desire to covet a morsel of Vito’s lunch; therefore he sat across from Vito. Despite his feigned disinterest he harbored ulterior motives.

It was just Vito and Rizzo in the lunchroom. Rizzo arranged his lunch would coincide with Vito’s and that it would be just them.

But rather than indulge himself in some good-old-fashioned sandwich talk, like ‘I remember when I ate at . . .’ He set up a smoke screen, not by talking turkey, but to rag and bend Vito’s ear about his contempt for young Johnny Lombardi! “Did ya see that fuckin’ Lombardi kid? That fuckin’ empty head almost paid that raggedy, old man an extra red chip. I can’t stand that fuckin’ punk!”

Vito just munched his tuna not affording Rizzo as much as a raised fuzzy-eye brow.

Rizzo held up his tirade, perhaps waiting hear some sort of reply. Yet at the same time, couldn’t help but wonder how the tuna salad tasted.

He snapped out of his focus ona the tuna, “Ya know what gets me about these punks today?”

No reply.

“The punks stay out half-the-night, blow their dough on booze, drugs and broads, then they come in here and do a shitty job. On top of that, he must think we’re becoming a message service. This new broad he’s been running calls and leaves messages and I guess he expects us to give them to him. I’ll tell, ya, he’s irresponsible. Ya know he got a DUI., and now he comes to work on a fucking unicycle. Imagine, pedaling your ass down the boards on a unicycle, madon!”

Vito continued to munch. Now and then closed his eyes.

Rizzo gave into Vito’s own moment and held up on his yack.

Vito reopened his eyes that showcased most of the time as friendly, brown stones, set deep inside the sockets of his defined Italian face. He clamped his thumb and forefinger on a neatly folded paper napkin edging its way out of the lunch bag. He fingered it somewhat, pulled the napkin from the bag as Vito slowly wiped his mouth. He noticed a plainly printed message exclusively for Vito’s eyes. The message: ‘I love you.’ Slyly, he buried his wife’s term of endearment into his palm, out of view of Rizzo’s eyes. He smiled to himself.

Rizzo mistook Vito’s smile as a green light, “He has that punk buddy of his, that Brad Mossman, a kid who never has been any good-—has him stop by the table near the end of his shift. They’ve been paling around together since high school. I don’t know if I should have to start worrying about, Lombardi, sneaking him chips; that Brad once tried fooling around with my youngest daughter ’til I put a stop to it. He’s a shrewdy.

“Hey, Vito, if I’m not around, I don’t want that Brad kid playing at our table, especially if Johnny’s working. I’ll be counting on you. I should just think about getting rid of the stiff.”

Vito causally began the second half of his tuna. He opened his silver thermos containing hot chocolate and scavenged further into the lunch bag. He retrieved a small Styrofoam container and more like a kid, he opened it gingerly, like he was about to discover what goody sat at the bottom of a box of Cracker Jack.

What sat inside the container was a delicious-looking piece of his Louise’s Key-lime pie. Vito smiled, but then frowned, as he stared down at his expanding waistline. He noticed Rizzo was rubbernecking to see around the top of the open container.

Rizzo nervously crushed the cigarette on the inside rim of a dirty, metal ashtray.

Without a peep, Vito slid the white container across the counter toward Joe Rizzo.

The conceited pigeon never let on nor did he flash a gratuitous sense. Rather, he both expected and accepted the crumbs from the hands of the well-fed man. Nor had he fooled Vito with his bullshit guise. He didn’t fool Vito Demarco—-not for an Atlantic City heartbeat.

Rizzo snatched the handout. The hungry chump presumed . . .

Rizzo dug right into the container as if famished, the way one marooned people gobble food after rescue.

Rizzo became a strange contrast, first as an animal wolfing the pie, then with his fingers becoming sticky with his manicured-nails. That pinky with the pinky ring remained extended outward, as might be taught in some girl school teaching Emily Post courses but we’re well aware of Rizzo’s lack of etiquette.

For the moment his stilted pomposity dropped off his young man’s face; he revealed no shame. He even let loose some of his own moans. Within his own nirvana he devoured Louise’s masterpiece, ignoring Vito then for the most part as he coveted the pie like a lion in the den, the way a fiend or werewolf would lap up blood.

Rizzo’s one eye caught Vito’s. Perhaps feeling obliged, Rizzo redirected his attention and attempted to relegate back to his bitching, with his mouth stuffed. Chunks of mixed lime and crust fell out of his mouth.

Louise put together a sweet concoction consisting of cornstarch, sugar, crushed-gram-crackers, limes and whipped chiffon. And there it was, a bounty of unconditional love being desecrated by the creep.

The sinful man had never taken a thoughtful moment to stop his bullshit as to savor the offering. Vito’s eyes narrowed and then tightened just a tad, summing how Rizzo hadn’t bothered to pay tribute toward Mrs. Vito DeMarco, the holy, blessed madre, the very queen of packed lunches.’

No! The bum remained immersed in his own trite world, too befuddled with disingenuousness to take to heart the full spectrum of lively flavors exploding inside his stupid mouth. He remained a far cry from a happy little boy who warms mommy’s heart and kitchen. Instead, he sat a chewing like a mooching thug, with a Windsor knot snug close to his vulture’s gullet. Pieces of sticky, lime-custard filling plopped about of his mouth.

Vito calmly tore away the cellophane paper of toothpicks, toothpicks provided by Louise. He probed his bottom teeth. After he dislodged a bit of tuna the rest of him finally came to life, and only then Vito DeMarco would give Joe Rizzo his precious time. Vito leaned forward his elbow and forearm rested on the green Formica top of the table. Vito’s Italian eyes hooked onto Rizzo’s with a drawing force.

Rizzo looked more like a deer caught in headlights . . . Vito’s face grew in stature as a glowing portrait. Vito’s features magnified. The fluorescent lights faded. The surroundings became murky other than the image of an illuminated Vito DeMarco. His likeness ballooned a visible image that could have been created by Rembrandt. Rizzo was all ears. At last!

Vito folded his arms and shrugged one shoulder. His liver-colored lips quivered, then stalled, then quivered again, as if they had been frozen shut or then molded out of clay as if our Vito wasn’t Vito DeMarco anymore but a caricature made up of puddy! His voice amplified.

” . . . Ya know, Rizzo! . . I’ve been sitting here quietly . . . enjoying another marvelous lunch expertly prepared by my Louise. As usual, the saint of a woman that she is, packed every morsel with special tender-loving care, a-care only she’s capable of giving . . . In your presence I won’t expound my wife’s virtues, it would be non-gratuitous to attempt such nonsense in front of somebody such as you . . . you know, I say that Mr. Pit Boss, because it goes without saying . . . you’re not worthy!”

Beforehand Joe had began to peacock as if expecting some boot licking.

“Now, Joe, I wanna tell ya something—it’s something about this beef ya got with Johnny Lombardi that seems to encompass you, and I wanna talk to you about this chip you’re carrying around and how you’re making this young man feel. I wanna tell ya, it’s obvious as shit that ya got a bee in your fuckin’ bonnet!

“I wanna tell ya what me and the other fellows think of the boy. We think he’s a damned-nice kid and it’s obvious to me and every other croupier on this shift that ya won’t give the kid a piss-poor break.”

“What is this?” blurted Rizzo.

Vito cut him off by standing up and reaching across the table and then grabbed Rizzo by his throat!

Because of the throat hold Rizzo’s eyes bulged and he eked out, “You know, I can have your . . .

“I wanna tell ya, and I want ya to listen, and listen good and not say nothing, but most of all, I want ya to understand something, and for me to say my piece and for me to say it between you and me personally!”

Rizzo, “You’re getting personal, Vito?”

“That’s right . . . and take this from me, Vito De Marco, and take it as something that’s holy-fuckin’ creed, man-to-man, take it from a pissed-off-of-a man whose lunch break ya tried to spoil . . .

“I tell ya, like I say, you’re on this kid like flies on shit, and I’m gonna tell ya why—-know why? ‘Cause you’re afraid of him; afraid his sharpness might one day be recognized, recognized by the big boys upstairs, and if compared, his sharpness will be seen as heads-and-shoulders over your weak shit, and ya know firsthand in your own stinking heart that in the long run ya know, sure as shittin’, once this kid grasps onto the ropes of this business, and once he’s attained that much; ya couldn’t make a pimple on this kid’s ass regardless of your brown-nose tenure and your suck-ass, fancy-ass clothes, and your-punk pinky diamond, and your kiss-ass, full-of-shit attitude ya like to stroll around with!

“And between you and me and the fuckin’ Staten Island Ferry, as far as I’m concerned, when this kid finally comes around, he’ll be able to outwork ya, outfight ya, out-fuck ya, out-laugh ya, and out do anything you’ll ever try to do for the rest of your sorry-assed, fucking life!

“Ya know what, Rizzo? I used to think you wuz nothing but a pigeon, eating shit from other peoples’ hand outs, and I’ve always figured ya for some somebitch who likes shittin’ on those hands ya think are beneath your pigeon ass-—but for right now=—I’m thinking even less of ya. I begining to think of you as nothing more than a mamaluke!

“Look, prick face! Do us a favor, wise the fuck up, do your job and keep off our ass and especially keep of that kid’s, or you’ll have me to deal with! And if ya want, ya can run out and scream bloody murder . . . I’ll deny I ever laid a hand on ya and it will be your word against mine and the union will back me up!”

*    *    *

With that! . . . Caring less what Rizzo thought, Vito let loose of Rizzo and snatched up and then with his hands crumbled the paper lunch bag. He sharply tossed the sack toward the nearby wall; the toss hit the wall made a thud and plopped directly into a trash container.

Vito said smoothly, “Two points.”

Rizzo was still rendered speechless.

As Vito turned to leave he cut from between the hairy cheeks of his full-fledged, Italian ass a full-fledged fart, his personal swan song for Joe’s behalf. Then he casually strolled away, whistling a sweet tune, still picking at his teeth. Rizzo stayed still, said nothing, and stared straight ahead, still munching on the last remnants of what he thought was an extorted Key-lime pie.
                                                        CHAPTER 12


So far I had beaten the devil out of $12,600, plus am still holding onto my $6000 seed money, all in hard cash spread around inside my pockets and under the soles of my feet. The time was 7:30.

Tactically, I decided to take a break so to rejuvenate myself for the big-push later on the craps table. If my scarred memory served me correct, the roulette table wouldn’t have stayed hot indefinitely; if I began to lose I may have lost my purpose and courage to go on to meet destiny.

*    *    *

A man on his way toward destiny can’t afford lose his courage. My primary target depends how my luck holds once I storm the craps table. Despite my auspicious start I have to take into consideration if it doesn’t go my way this is it! No fucking around! I’ll be at the end of my rope, I’ll have to walk the plank and sadly it will be the end of the line. I consider, same as in the movies, dying men are supposedly entitled to one-last meal, a feast perhaps, one of their choice. What the fuck! Strangely enough, I have an appetite.

My own history has been, I could be deadly sick, and I’ve always remained hungry. For me the remedies of my woes has been to feed a fever . . . feed a cold . . . feed heartbreak . . . feed defeat. During rare instances of victory, I’d celebrate by eating. I suppose I’m a chowhound.

Then, my appetite gets somewhat dampened because I can’t discount having the devil on the ropes and his disreputable corner will regroup from an ass kicking. Take into consideration the roulette-tables, pit boss rated me, categorized me as a high roller, and tossed out the bait rather than the surrendering towel, in the form of a complementary meal, paid for by the devil himself inside the casino’s finest restaurant.

The devil and his bastards have it all figured so they’ll have a second shot at me. The front guy offered me a luxury suite with the fixings. The sly devil—I know how the bastards operate. I understand in the long run just who-and-what pays for what has to be an astronomical, electric bill.

In order to fulfill a positive destiny I must remain coy, pretend to be part of the program, let them think I’m still the same sucker I’ve been in the past but as far as I’m concerned, I’ll never be back to that roulette table again.

Instead, I’ll stay cool and have a great meal on the casino, and sit there in the middle of opulence and dine in my windbreaker and wrinkled shorts below the crystal chandeliers with no socks, and I play my role as the sucker at the ritzy Chateau de Rue Kinard.

While wolfing down a duck salad I’ll plan my final strategy and continue to do so while ingesting a heaping-bowel of gnocchi smothered with a marinara sauce. I’ll take my time and devour a thick steak and guzzle down a fine bottle of some of that Fussy Pussy.

It would be special if Carrie could possibly join me. It would be too much to ask having her radiant presence and beaming smile just across the white-linen, candlelit table, her sitting there sporting a smart ensemble.

I have to snap out of it! She’s not with me to share this meal and I have serious business to take care of. . .

“For the moment,” or I should say, “as usual,” I’ll stop the plot here to focus on my own sorry ass.

*    *    *

I’ve attempted to fully comprehend my undeniable downfall. Has it been the pride of a coward? Has it been desire for women or that everlasting thirst to achieve true romance? Have I been parched so that I’m unable to rejuvenate the seeds of love? What the fuck’s been the reason that I’ve marooned myself in this void? Why the emptiness?

Someone once said, “Men fight solely because women watch.” To tell you the truth, I’m tired as hell of the whole process and asking the same probing questions to a long-line of countless women over restaurant tables, and I’m exhausted from that gut-piercing unfullfillment and meager drips of feigned content or becoming partially satisfied like those poor slobs back on those boardwalk benches who just meander back and go inside their Ventnor condos, with them better-off men than I; men who are able to just close their eyes and shut off their ears from the antics of their crabby old ladies and doze off and fall fast asleep in their comfy recliner.

I respect the fact that you, yourself, might be fatigued from hearing my boohooing. You may be with me only because you’re curious to find out what happens later?

But please forgive me for hammering it home once again. And with the awesome responsibility I’ve taken on, I can’t get over and I’m still smitten, and feel as if I’ve been kicked in the dick about being dumped by this Mik.

I’m mature enough to realize her affront is a blessing in the long run, death over misery . . . even if at first there may have been oodie-ah ah. At this very moment we could have been doing the oodie-ah ah on her living-room floor—nevertheless, I’ve come to terms eventually it would have turned bad.

I’m starting to figure she’s dumber than a door and more than likely her pea brain’s unable to grasp the enormity of my situation. She’s ignorant to the fact I shattered my home life back in Hawaii and broke up with my sweet, longtime girl friend for what I strongly presumed as a golden opportunity.

Her own Mongoloid mind is unable to measure that it took true guts and a strong sense of commitment to uproot and then throw caution to the wind. The empty head probably thinks the State of Hawaii is situated somewhere right next door to Ohio.

I didn’t bother to telephone my buddy, inside my heart I’m disappointed, he hasn’t bothered to get in touch with me so to have a buddy-to-buddy talk. And I suspect he’s back in the picture, tipped off I’m back in the Garden State and I am hurt ‘my man’ never bothered to pick up the telly to hoot and invite me go have a beer for old times sake, maybe he could have bragged about his latest score. I miss that aspect of our sordid relationship.

All this could explain why I have such a yearning for Carrie, and in her presence I might erase my own stilted persona. Once confident about being secure I could stop huckstering myself as a guy tougher than asbestos. Somehow Carrie could unleash my deeper sentiments and I might shed the pseudo armor, turn myself around and perhaps be sincere with this woman, and overwhelmed with an in-gut sensation she might take it to heart and her compassion would desire to soothe the pain.

I have to shelf such fantasizing, I’m saying to the world, just like my old-mentor Louie Zerillo,’fuck ’em all in the ass six times!’ I’m off to destiny!

This void is an emptiness biding its time ‘til the end. Perhaps it’s because I’ve always fitted myself into the role of an outsider, born the bastard I am, with no visible moments to bring back to my memory, no sense of family with parental touching.

I’m unable to diminish the loneliness of not being affiliated, not being a Jew, not really being Catholic, not being 100% Irish, or 100% French Creole, or 100% anything . . . So there’s been no safety in numbers. Yet, when thinking further, I’ve never desired to belong, taking-into-mind the maverick role hasn’t panned out.

There’s not a good taste in my mouth.

The yearning for the softness of the bosom has been consistent. The way I figure, us sad sacks suffer from the “black-widow syndrome.”

The girls wish for us to love them; to adore them, to place them on a pedestal and continue to whisper sweet-nothings near their ear lobes and to willfully listen to them, take interest, and to perpetuate and echo their trite bullshit to the end of time, and then to promise to never leave their sides for fucking ever.

But sadly, once we capitulate; once we cross over into voodoo land of commitment and once we erase doubt within their conniving minds . . . and once we prove we do love them unconditionally . . . and further sellout and express to them that their mundane world is our world . . . well my fellow humans, that’s when something eerie gets coughed up and comes gurgling over and ruthlessly, they decide to pull the fucking trigger, toss us guys off a cliff, and cast usin to agonizing misery.

Go figure?

Maybe as they say, ‘it’s all in the hunt.’

Someone once said, “Women! They could be aliens. Who else profusely bleeds for three solid days and lives?”

Actually, they’re conniving Bopeeps, willing to suffer, to wait it out and to tolerate the jejune shit men do, only for them to earn one-shining moment.

I remember cocky guys who treated the chics the shittiest; those shit-doler outers seemed to have the best of worry-free times . . . conscious-less—insensitive guys, with no thoughts of karmic retribution!

How many times had I seen a buddy fuck broads over?

And as for those getting shit on . . . after taking abuse, the gals seem more than willing to take those shit-dolers back, maybe whimper a bit, and then, just close their dumb cow eyes and express themselves either by words or actions. The weak sluts that they are express just how happy eating shit makes them feel.

Those shit-on-gals kowtowed with open-arms, open everything . . . with their mouths puckered, puckered round, as if commanded, to suck those guys’ miserable shit-doling, pissy dicks.

Those were the women I desired most!

Saps like me who thought on those terms normally had nobody to hold and caress or to have our miserable little pricks done anything to, not counting on the fact that in turn, we’d have no one else to dole shit on.

So where’s the fairness?

Well that’s what I’ve been preaching, about how woman can turn out. For me, it seems those course of events follow the same path, a Solar System deal shrunken down to me? And I ask, how come a chump like me who thinks he’s been so bright, so special, so new age—how come a chump like me has bounced down the primrose path to nothingness?

We’re creatures of habit.

I’ve questioned the how comes when I’m with one of those so-called babes. I’ve envisioned myself at the height of estrus; in the midst of the oodie-ah-ah, screaming to the Heavens, and saying silly shit like, baby, baby, baby over and over me with a dufus face, with my twisted mouth, my eyes closed tight, and looking more like a god-damned, smacked ass than any Casanova, desiring so much for that humping cynosure pinned down in a glorious state of nirvana being rammed and riveted to the mattress taking it all in. As usual, in my mind, she’s absolutely fantastic; perhaps the-most-sensational lay of my life!

And! Just like that . . . almost instantaneously . . . after my ejaculation, when I’ve peered down at the taking-it-all-in woman, who’s wet with wonder, and whose been wiggling lovingly beneath me, and when the high-water mark of my raging passion goes the other way . . . I can’t wait, to get the fuck out of there!

What happened?

I’ve been shockingly overt here perhaps as I share my inner thoughts with ole you; I’ve confessed about being possessed with the idea of sex.

All of my life, every time I’ve been introduced to woman, my mind instantaneously sees the woman and I both wrapped in a sexually compromising position.

In most instances the vision disappears as quickly as it began, it’s just for an instant, yet the vision always shows itself. It occurs no matter who I’m introduced to; single-women, married-women, my friends women, even the first lady, even Carrie. It’s out of my control. Fortunately I do come to grips, and if the woman is off limits I permanently erase the scene.

Why? Perhaps because the very-first thing any of us warm-blooded animals touch or have been embraced-by is warmed-by, or protected-by what has been when inside the comfy confines of a warm-wet womb!

For most men we have cast ourselves as Sir Galahads, back in search of the Holy Grail. And we’ve charmed and strived and lied, and fought, and we have opened our eyes each morning perhaps with just one goal, one more crowning moment for the ordinary guy, or wealthy guy, or talented guy, to just get back in there, back where it’s safe and warm.

As for my sought-after lease on a not-so-sure life: Taking into consideration, if the gods of good shine upon me, if I do win tonight, I promise, I am going to alter the course, do some nifty, dead reckoning, rather than just treading water and then as usually drifting into the vortex of the status quo.

Maybe, it’s about time. Maybe, I should be the one who begins to change my drowning formula of misery. Maybe, it’s me who’s been taking the wrong course, sailing to nowhere, and to think of it, it’s only when I’ve thrown caution to the wind that I’ve been able to channel myself to more tranquil currents.

Just maybe I’ve been the phony, and I’ve pretended for my own selfish reasons that I’m solely interested in them, because in the long run, what I’ve wanted to do is squeeze their little fuzzy pussies and then have them do shit back to my dick. Maybe I’m the one who’s fucked up, and my history dictates that once I’ve had my fill, I’ve gotten lazy, lost my desire to squeeze them and hug them and have lost interest to listen to them out, and usually it is I who winds up caring less what they might do to my genitals, ’cause in actuality, I’ve lost the pure satisfaction of their carnal offerings.

As my captain’s log reveals they eventually get the vibe. And despite the male’s armada which deluges them with shallow lies, consisting of the most disingenuous of ‘I love yous,’ and after time, those empty words no longer blow a stiff-wind to stretch the sails of love.

Consider, maybe the poor girls have no choice. Because of the shallowness stemming from men’s insincere minds they manifest themselves into female Captain Bleighs. They then have but no choice.

Those women, chics, trim, broads and quiff are forced to play the end game. After having their fragile, inner nature pierced, there’s the awakening, a darker spirit that forces them to counter attack that has us pitiful men walking the plank.

Oh, it’s a praying mantis routine . . . you see the poor deprived gals are programmed, with no alternative, but to bring their own misery to a concluding end.

They can go ahead and just bite off our sorry-assed heads and cast us, along with what’s left of our warped souls off toward oblivion. When you think of it, it’s been us guys who have egged them on, they’ve had no alternative but to save themselves.

Fact is: It’s men who are hung up. We’re possessive while always boosting ourselves and setting the agenda, crazy with jealousy and too often concerned that the apple of our eyes might get the hots for others.

We might consider the Eskimos, ’cause it’s said that when at the end of the day, during a winter hunt, one of the men of the north might shout out to his fellow seal slayers, “Hey, amigos! I got a great idea! Let’s all go back to my igloo and fuck my wife.”

Western men would never do that and don’t brandish the confidence to do such because of a fear of their own incapacity. What if Rose, or Linda or Cecila begins to feel that somebody else’s whale fat is more intriguing? She may no longer desire MoWat or Herb. Eskimo men never worried about that stuff. Love and linking were considered infinite and eternal.

If the opportunity does present itself with Carrie, well maybe, she might be able to turn this dead-in-the-water of an old battleship around for a luxury cruise offering a mere chance to eke out a bit of happiness for what is left to this sailor’s dreary life.

However, if I don’t want to die, there’s a challenge.

I have to pull myself through the frozen tide and while soaking wet, with my skin exposed, swim to safety, while avoiding the surf’s pounding which is surely capable of flattening me by the ocean’s break I’ll struggle at the rocky shoreline, washed up bruised and naked. Then there’s the next event: Mt. Everest!

Tonight, if I can’t produce 250K, in cold cash, I’m not willing to go on. It sounds so silly, a mere materialistic band aid, and for me, a man who possesses a wealth of experience, I’m feeling so poor, destitute and so desperate for printed, green paper that I’m willing to destroy my most precious commodity, so to close the book and put an end to little ole me!

With a cool 250K I could pay off the bloodsuckers who haunt my existence. Then maybe I could forget venture down to the mountains of Central Mexico, perhaps to San Miguel de Allende, a jewel of a town, and there I could live well and within my means. Who knows? With a clear head and healthy mind, maybe I could bang out a best seller, I could even hook up with Carrie.

*    *    *

So, my friends I’m gonna have a nice meal, think positive, and shelve sorting out this goofy dilemma, and then head directly toward destiny. I’m going to fleece that fucking devil. Once again, I know in my heart I’m orchestrating what most guys don’t have the balls to do . . . and I’ll do it with way more balls than Bob Dylan’s, Mr. Jones, ’cause, baby, I’m scary now. I’m committed. I’m fucking-A-dangerous, willing to risk it all. I’ll spit right at devil.

If faced with defeat I’ll bow to the consequences, and yes, it will defiantly be moi who will be the master of my destiny, even if it’s conclusive. I’ll become nothing more than a washed-up corpse on a May morning.

I’m sure I have more chutzpah more so than the not-so-real John Waynes, the DiNiros, or even Captain Kirk, who had Spock and Bones and Scotty, and the whole-fucking Enterprise, including a schmaltzy Hollywood set.

Maybe, I’m crazy. You and I have come to realize I’m weak, merely a crazy-assed, hopeless romantic, who’s far-far from being the smartest guy in this spinning world. However, rather than selling myself too short, maybe I’m one of the smartest of the dumb guys, always smooth enough to get his smart ass in plenty of big-time trouble.

Never let it be said . . .






Hmmm, why should a man, who’s just about ready to go off to the gallows, deny himself dessert?

Earlier, while scanning the casino’s restaurant menu I read that they served Apple Brown Betty, which is one of my all-time favorites. And I recall the menu’s deadly description, telling how the fruit-and-fiber dessert is appropriately saturated with a mouthwatering, warm-vanilla, cream sauce. . . . Fuck the waistline! What’s the Atlantic City Press gonna print? Man found washed-up in surf who appeared as if he was about to gain two more pounds . . . Por Favor.

Feeling up-tempo and trying to sound more like a suave Ricardo Montabon, doing so in bumbling Spanish, I add to the Brown Betty my coffee order. Yo hablo Espanol!

I lay my Spanish rap on the white-jacketed, Puerto Rican waiter, “Cafe con leche, leche caliente, sin espuma, gracias.”

The coffee arrives rich and full-bodied, just as ordered.

If only Carrie could have joined me, it would have been almost perfect and so romantic; it’s so lonely eating alone. At least I have a Sports Page.

For now my interlude is over, the whistle inside my head signaling my date with destiny shrills once again, and beckons me back to the mission.

*  *    *

Full to my stomach, I’m touched for some reason, as if anointed with an unusual sense of confidence. The feeling of doom has faded somewhat, as if there’s a reprieve. I’ll stroll back out onto the main-gaming floor. I’ll begin checking out locations the way I did when bird-dogging roulette tables.

I notice there’s a particular crap table, over near the cash cage. Something about it seems intriguing.

As I get closer I notice on a plastic cut the table’s ID number is CT-32. Thirty-two! That was O.J.’s football jersey’s number. Hey, what the fuck, I’m in Jersey!

So, I’ll check out the goings on at CT-32. The time is 8:45 p.m.

Panning the table, I closer inspect the table’s players.

There’s a stooped, little-old man who anchors the far end. Obviously a dying breed, he’s a pathetic heap appearing as if he’s a broken man. He’s shabbily dressed and he nervously smokes non-filters, smokes them all the way down.

Next to him is planted a heavyset woman, with orangery-than-orange red hair, boasting a heavyset of cow tits. The fat woman’s girth, held up by a non-stockinged-pair of skinny, bird legs, an unsightly package right down to her gunboat feet. Those hush puppies are situated into a pair of orange pumps, grotesquely matching the shocking color of her done-up hair. She’s tented in a multicolored, mostly orange-flowered, silk dress. Christ, she’s built more like a chicken! And because as you understand, by now how I must rate all women, old or young, fat or skinny and offer an evaluation—she’s an ugh, shapeless, non-appealing with a flat-as-a-shingle’s ass.

Thankfully, any thought of her and I copulating can’t be manifested. I have to say, I’m hard-pressed to find a redeeming feminine quality exuding from the flabby woman. For her sake I hope she possesses a beautiful heart.

Her face: a distorted oversized Mona Lisa, a full moon, (not that DiVinci’s legacy has ever given me a swollen snake in my pants.) To top off her ugly rating, her face boasts a triple chin with a nickel-sized mole. Smack in the center of the mole protrudes a single-strand of hair in pubic proportions. And there’s too-much gooey make up plastered on her puss. She’s theatrical.

My meal’s arisen.

Regardless of her non-appeal, I’m curious about her play and can’t help but notice how she reacts to the action. She adds a different dimension. Just before each roll she evolves into table side thespian, more like a heavyset opera star. If Pavorotti strolled up at any moment it wouldn’t be much of a surprise. As if on cue she pops into action before each roll. Her soprano dialogue sounds more like a put-on, as a Southern belle in a play.

After the dice are tossed the skinny-legged fat broad pretends to hide her eyes. In true Tennessee Williams fashion she mostly pantomimes with exaggerated airs.

I’ve seen enough.

I check further scanning for other women: there are no good-looking broads playing.

And we’re right back to my original problem aren’t we? Here I am again, at a precarious intersection, perhaps the crossroads of my life, and here I am thinking about trim! I should stun the surrounding crowd and just haul off and smack myself about, coming to grips with my loathsome self, yet it wouldn’t be prudent.

I can berate myself and implore that I’m not in the casino to seek out good-looking broads nor to sniff asses. SCHUMCK! YOU’RE AT WAR WITH THE DEVIL!

So, I’m back to business to see who else is playing at table #32.

Next to the heavyset woman stands one man, a lone ranger, well dressed, from his curly mousse hair, down to the tasseled, soft-black-leather loafers; most notably, his starched-white shirt is smartly cuffed with jade links. He wears an expensive-looking wristwatch. His hairline is full with distinguished spots of gray. Dashingly, he’s wellfitted in a high-fashioned, black, double-breasted, pinstriped suit.

Panning further, standing next to one another are a pair of foreign-looking men. Both rest their elbows on the table’s edge as they bend over. They’re plainly dressed, nondescript. I suspect they’re either Italian or Spanish. They confide with heads close together.

During intervals they huddle for what has to be planned strategy, doing most of their communicating without talking. They quietly place their bets.

Far from an elite group, yet taking a quick count, I see most of CT-32’s players have a decent amount of chips sitting in front of them. It’s a positive sign! Maybe this table is warming up.

I take heed, understanding certain players, regardless of their make-up, do catch fire; then thinking further, I should take into account by aligning oneself with a hot roller; their hot-streak could become mine!

Even if it’s a rookie newcomer, somebody who knows absolutely nothing about the game, at times, they’re able to parlay small stakes into serious money. If a table gets the fever, ignites in unison, it’s a good idea to jump on their betting coattails. Such synergy can further fuel the fire, and anything might happen. I’m sure you’ve heard about something called a mad hour.

I scope out five casino employees manning the back end of CT-32. There’s a typical pit boss—Cross brand pen in hand as he stands guard, feet planted wide apart. He possesses all the pit-boss trimming—smartly dressed in a brown, nicely tailored, double-breasted ensemble. His underlings are draped in oversized, ridiculous-looking, purple-and-white tunics.

I might recognize one guy, who’s more of a kid, the one who’s working on the far end! Why he’s the same unicyclist who almost ran me down outside on the boardwalk!

I’ll decide to watch just a bit longer. Perhaps I shouldn’t? . . . Perhaps I should get in there right now?

I see there’s a small spot to eke into!


Out of my peripheral vision, like two runaway tractor-trailers, two-fat drunks come rumbling towards the very same spot I was thinking about heading for. I hold up and permit the men pass cross my path unobstructed.

Despite the hour they’re still dressed in beach wear, with hanging out bellies. Uncouth also are the topsides of their torsos with flabby bodies sticking out of sagging pectorals exposed from the open ends of their tank tops. They’ve muscled their way to the table’s edge. My spot is gone.

I’ll stick around though and check out these two. I’m trying to make out something else about the men? My first impression, both possess some Gorbechev-like whitish, birth marks on their foreheads; it’s some pasty-colored substance dried to their foreheads. I doubt if they’re Hari Krishnas.

They’ve nudged in, stretching the band of folk lassoed around the table’s edge. With lean-on-you rudeness and while flailing let-us-in elbows, they situate, then re-situate, stirring the table with a whirl of confusion.

A pair of Sir Walter Raleigh’s they’re not, while not offering any ‘pardons’ or ‘excuse me’s.’ They’re boisterous and have steamrolled themselves between the fat lady and the well-dressed cat.

*  *    *

For all to hear, “Wouldya mind moving down a bit, dear, we’re going to roll some numbers . . . I’m, Carl . . . this is, Phil!”

She makes an awful face, followed by a throat-clearing grunt, an overt sign of contempt, nevertheless, reluctantly, she inches more toward to her right, nearer to the old timer, who’s smoking and staring into space.

The man in the expensive black-pinstriped suit doesn’t act as if he cares to deal with the riffraff; he just turns the other way and takes three-or-four, short drags off his own cigarette.

“How we doing, gang?” blurts out Carl.

The Phil guy has a goofy grin. The twin dufuses monkey wrench and put strangulation holds around the necks of their bottles of beer.

Other than the antics displayed by the fat woman, the table’s occupants have been all business.

By chance, a craps table stick promptly delivers the dice in front of the-just-showed-up, Carl, guy.

“Howdaya like this for timing?” Carl spits out the side of his mouth.

No ears will be spared.

“OK. Phil, this is it! Alls we wants is a mad hour! A mad hour! Let’s take these cock suckers money! Oh, sorry, folks, you’re going to have to get used to us two.”

Carl quiets down, signals with a finger, and flashes a blatant come-here, towards one of the croupiers. His girth leans over the table.

The croupier shakes his head and further motions, as to bring Joe Rizzo in on the conversation.

Carl sends a cloud of bad breathe Rizzo’s way.

“Me and my partner wanna play with green stuff . . . cash . . . we don’t want no chips.”

Rizzo backs off stench, “Lay what you want, cuz. . . but this table only pays off in chips . . .”

Rizzo too speaks out the side of his mouth. Rizzo signals for a cocktail waitress and says, “Get this guy a Banaca, will ya . . .” As Rizzo juts backwards and says something else rude. Carl’s oblivious to the insult, “Hey, whatevers, whathefuck, monies money, chips is money!”

Carl twists his bull neck as to check with Phil. He’s explaining to his sidekick and coming to quick terms their game plan to play with cash has been somewhat thwarted.

Phil’s response; he shrugs his shoulders, digs into his bathing-suit and pulls out his mother-load, peels-off a twenty, and places it smack on the Pass Line.

Carl lays his ante. He presses down hard on President Jackson’s likeness, rubbing the ante symbolically with both hands to stay put.

*  *    *

Most-experienced gamblers will tell you, a bigmouth is usually drunk, and drunks are sure-sign losers. On the most part the casinos love it, it’s perfect, the wise guys get drunk, then throw their money away . . . it’s the casinos sneaky method, simple as that, only thing, the process sometimes develops pains in the asses. The devil can tolerate anything—yes, in hell, the means justify the ends.

Sometimes oafs do catch lightning in a bottle.

The mostly winning table welcomes the new-energy, a lot whose patrons are already jam-packed with bravado and booze.

Round the table the majority bet with the two men with only one exception. The mousy-looking, old guy doesn’t. He’s contemplating, lipping his Pall Mall while stapled to the floor on the other side of the woman in the orange-flowered dress.

The old guy motions his head sideways and makes a face. In a bold move and doing a monologue, he states, he sees them as fools, nothings, wise guys and stiffs.

For an old, grouchy guy who hasn’t flashed any traces of humor, he begins to laugh. The laugh is weird. Gaps of darkness are exposed where teeth once were. Some catch his drift. As if amusing, ripples of laughter domino around the table’s edge. The old man stands alone. The rest keep to their guns and remain on the Pass Line.

The old man angles his head in the direction of Carl and Phil and then adds fuel to the fire and mouths in a moderate tone, “These two fellows have pure-loser written all over them!”

Carl and Phil are yakking so, they miss out on the old-geezer’s prediction of doom-and-gloom. The old guy, whose been a one-chip player all along, places his entire stash; an assembling of about 15-red chips, and cavalier-like, he does so squarely upon the ‘Do-Not-Pass Line!’ Blatantly he backs it up with a defiant glare.

There’s drama!

*  *    *

Carl jiggled the two cubes, rattling them close to his ear, until the rattling blended itself into a hopefully win-sounding hum. He remained loud, revved up and milked it. The clicking sound increased until the noise became a rattle.

Adding drama, the croupier Johnson, straightened up like an Indian Chief during some pow-wow. Johnson, in ceremonious manner, slowly waved his arm across the table—a green-felt lawn, littered with colored chips.

Rizzo glared hard at the man. He loathed the likes of Carl Fishman.

*  *    *

In the Past!

“C’mon, baby, give, big daddy, a winner! This is it, Phil! . . . Here goes! Show these motherfuckers who’s the boss!”

With gusto Carl let go of the dice, swinging his entire body into motion, losing his balance!

The fat lady acted out her exaggerated motions. She wheezed and then went deep down, so to gasp out a ‘goodness me.’

The well-dressed man kept his M.O., and just gazed at his watch, smoked his smoke, while risking a black chip ($100) of which he casually set down on the Pass Line.

The dice came to rest: “#7!”

“Attah, baby!” rip roared Carl.

Phil clapped his hands hard, with his eyes wide open wildly, still fixated on the dice, grinning.

Carl screamed, with his mouth remaining wide-open, with bugged-eyed looks and the rest of his him pumped for action.

A few patrons jumped from being startled.

Carl turned towards a spastic Phil. He stood up on his tippy toes, then planted his ugly puss in Phil’s face, leaning hard on his buddy. With his index finger he poked directly at Phil’s forehead, doing so squarely on the dried-bird dung. His eyes were intense and then with the same passion he pointed directly at his own shit face with his other stiff-index finger.

After the display of primal, whatever . . . Carl served notice. “We’re friggin’ unbeatable, gang! Lady luck is with us tonight and not with these schmucks. . . Wanna make some dough, play with the duo!”

Phil remained giddy.

“We’re on a roll, Phil! This is it! It’s our night, buddy! A mad hour is alls we want, and then, with bucks stashed in our pockets we’ll rent a friggin’ suite, forget the wives, instead, we’ll do a little chitty-titty bang-bang with them-two cocktail waitresses!”

The crumpled man wasn’t so jubilant. There was a different scene unfolding on the other side of the fat woman. The old man shook his head in disbelief, looking as if the whole world had just come tumbling down. He backed off, as if his dice-playing role was no more than a bit part, an opening pawn move as a nobody’s cameo appearance and he mouthed a quiet, dignified, “Mercy, me . . . mercy, . . . lord, I’m, busted.”

“What the fuck does that old geezer know, anyhow?” Carl bellowed, unaffected by the man’s lost. “Fuck, ‘im! That’s what he deserves for going against us, buddy boy.”

The loser stuffed his busted-out hands back into his empty pockets and woefully backed away.

Johnny Lombardi could only say, “Better luck next time, sir.” He gave the man a consolatory so long. Vito Demarco erased his steady smile and chose not to perform his array of chip tricks as he paid Carl and Phil.

Inside their hearts, Johnny and Vito’s felt for the old geezer. They estimate he lost over $500. During his short tenure, Johnny had witnessed desperation play in the past.

If comparing and if being cognizant of Lou’s dilemma, the repercussions for the old man were on a smaller scale then our hero’s. Despite the tough loss, it was highly unlikely the old guy was about to take a losing stroll out to the edge of the Atlantic so to drown himself.

To his benefit, the old man took his shot and threw caution to the wind, and lost. And the last hit was only for $75, but at the same time, a substantial wager for the old man. However, that’s not what rattled the old man’s senses.

He hated losing! If he could have known in advance all about that evening’s eventual outcome and its ramification, he’d lament toward the table’s patrons that in all actuality he received a divine sign, one from above a god send that saved his life. The message and an inbred sense of survival mandated that he lay it all on the line and get the fuck out of there.

The old man later would swear after hearing about the big robbery, that it truly was a divine sign to throw away his money so. Five hundred dollars well spent.

“Fuck, the Queen of Bird Shit!” he boasted for years when recalling that night. He was correct to size up those two louts as automatic losers.

*    *    *

As the old man shuffled away, Johnny spotted Lou, standing there, with his hands stuffed into the pockets of his maroon wind breaker.

The guy seemed as if he had been waiting for a spot to open up. Johnny caught a view of the action beforehand, witnessing Lou getting cutoff and crowded-out by the two schmoes.

Johnny and Lou made eye contact.

Johnny motioned, inviting Lou, wondering if he wanted the then old-man’s spot.

At first, Lou stayed frozen, as if he wasn’t ready to be prompted into the game, but then he unseeingly moved forward for his fateful date with destiny.





He was on line!

For Lou, it had always been the same. Dates with destiny suddenly unfolded in the same lightning manner—that fast—perhaps–to be seared on the front-burner of life, coughed up by non-caring circumstances, standing on the edge.

Carl’s big mouth hadn’t stopped.

A curious crowd formed.

Hard-core gamblers are gullible, quick to make weird alliances. In the outside world, other than within the devil’s grasp, they might not give one another the time of day. But within the throes of a fight, they’re willing and eager to become a roller’s best friend. A bond develops regardless of the stature belonging to each other’s caste . . .

When there’s wins, it’s a glorious time, even when involving fools such as Carl and Phil.

In Carl and Phil’s instance there was a beach story to boot. The two men informed EVERYBODY about being bombed. Some surmised, maybe ‘the stuff’ about the bird dung and its good fortune is true.

“Go with the flow . . .” Isn’t that what Carl’s, Gloria, preached?

“Go with the flow! . . Go with the flow!” chanted Carl.

Johnny cashed in Lou’s green, returning to him 10-black chips. “Good luck, sir,” wished Johnny.

Lou laid two black chips on the Pass Line, gingerly placing them down as he was about to test the torrid waters and dip his toe into the devils tub.

The well-dressed man played his usual black. Carl continued to pontificate, what was turning into a chant, “Go with the flow? . . . Go with the flow! . . Watch it, Phil! We got two guys playing black with us. They’re going with the flow! . . All right! . . . Yous guys picked the lucky table, ’cause me and Phil have begun our mad hour!”

While still rattling the dice, “And I got news for ya, once we get a little-mojo going, we’re going to be betting black too. You’ll see! OK, go with the flow!”

The well-dressed man said nothing. He smiled a suave ceste le vie, as if he could care less. He just smoked and gazed towards the casino’s offing. Now and then he glanced down at his watch.

It was anyone’s guess how the two men’s theatrics affected the mysterious balance between the two Hispanic men. They weren’t moved by Carl’s antics. Both stared at Carl, perhaps not in bewilderment, not with envy, nor even with disdain. They only reason they blankly looked toward the fat man was because he held the dice.

Bending his head somewhat, Lou checked to see the time. Vito DeMarco’s wristwatch flashed 9:30 p.m.

Nails-on-the-blackboard, Carl, did his thing and the dice finally departed his mitts. They came to rest at, 6-4.

“Ten’s, the number!” shouted out Crowley.

Johnson placed the marker on the #10 spot, just inside the Come Line.

Lou, without raising his head backed-up the initial bet, risking another $200, as did the lion-share of the gamblers.

All understood, if another #10 rolled, before the inauspicious #7, they could expect to be paid even money. In Lou’s case, he’d be paid another 2-1 on the back bet, a $400 payoff.

The fat man wasn’t going to be denied.

Joe Rizzo, Vito, and the men working acted unimpressed by Carl. Johnny Lombardi had already witnessed the likes of yokels who got hot for brief moments.

Joe Rizzo and the others, pretended to ignore Carl, but casino employees don’t miss a trick. They’re more like country folk, locals, who pass by strangers with their eyes downcast, not letting on to give them any mind. Yet same as country folk, same as other keenly cognizant critters who keep frightfully alert, track every move and later, if quizzed, they’d be able to describe the gambler’s distinct features, type of garb, as if they had them under a microscope.

Johnny stared curiously at Lou. He had inkling, but couldn’t pinpoint the man’s whereabouts . . . Then the time and place struck his memory. “Hey, mister, aren’t you the guy I almost ran over while pedaling to work?”

Lou sized up the young man. The kid possessed the moxie to break the ice and admit how he almost ran into him. Lou earlier observed the kid while standing on the outside of the table and he noticed how he utilized a system. He further admired how the young man, when he spoke with them how he made it a point to look each player directly in the eye.

“Yeah,” replied Lou, “I thought you were going to bike right up my back, leave tire-marks on the top of my bald head, and then pedal right down the front of me.”

Lou laughed easily. “I thought I recognized you too. That’s some form of transportation.”

Johnny nodded his head up and down, “Ah, I’d rather be cruising in my Honda Civic, but for right now, I got a problem with my driver’s license. A guy’s gotta do whatta guy’s gotta do. . . . ya know I got knuckled under and have been out of action because of a DUI . . .   Sorry, I almost plowed into you! I was just checking out this chick walking the other way.”

Lou smiled, admiring the kid’s vibe; especially with him being honest, admitting about both the DUI, and a sense of honesty when it came to girls.

Lou responded for conversation’s sake, “Yeah, ya gotta watch it these days, three beers for Christ’s sake and you’re a fugitive. My philosophy, ‘no-harm no-foul.’ Next time you’re coming down the boardwalk will ya just holler, ‘get the fuck out of the way'”

*  *    *

Silence fell between them. Then Lou made an inquiry.

“How’s the action?”

When Lou asked the question, Johnny was figuring chips, “Whatta ya mean, with the girls?”

Lou rolled his eyes, “Look, kid, we can talk about women later if ya like. How about listening-up, Sherlock! . . I’m talking about how’s the action going on the table? . . . Oogatz, en guile!” Lou chastised the young man but he did it with a skeptical grin, an acid test of sort.

“Oh!” Johnny said longly, somewhat embarrassed he missed the gist of the question. The young man’s ‘Oh;’ an indication he should have known better. “I’d say it’s mostly hit and miss.”

“I’m doing OK., honey!” piped in the big woman who extended a chubby hand and introduced herself as Wanda, who hadn’t taken her Miss Piggy eyes off of Lou since he first stepped up.

“Goodness, me! I’ve been putting some down and picking up more . . . Ooh, goodness, maybe tonight’s my lucky night!” She tee-hee-heed.

As Lou gazed back toward Johnny, he screened his own face away from the woman’s, and he put on an awfully funny face that clearly mandated, ‘never on my worse-fucking day.’

Seeing the extent of Lou’s funny face, Johnny lost his composure and he had to look away. Lou changed his facial expression again, only for the benefit of his newfound compatriot, and lastly, he flashed a cat-that-ate-the-mouse smile.

Johnny did his best to recapture respectability in front of fat Wanda. She was a steady player and the young man felt obliged to make some kind of amends, “Yeah, the Mrs. has been doing real good! She’s hit her double-fives, four-or-five times . . . haven’t ya, Mrs?” She wasn’t sold about his interest and sincerity.

Directing his attention back towards Lou, “That guy there, the one in the pin-stripped suit, I’d say he’s up some.

“And the two hombres gotta be up, they’re playing cautiously, real sneaky like.”

Johnny then shook his head begrudgingly, as he put on sad eyes, “Now that old geezer, why luck just wasn’t with him . . . I’ll tell ya, he must be a Red Sox fan. . .

“Hey, what’s your name?”

Lou answered. . . .

“I’m, Johnny, see, it’s on my name tag, Johnny Lombardi . . . Well, Lou, it’s like this, he’d play the Pass-Line, but only after the opening-number came out. If the first number weren’t a #6, #8, or #9, he wouldn’t play. You know what they say about scared money never winning. I see it all the time.

“So, the poor old guy never had an opening win and I’m telling you, there were a string of them. Sevens were coming up . . . his bets were nowhere to be found—then he’d play the Do-Not-Pass Line —and low-and-behold, the rollers were making all kinds of numbers. It wasn’t his day.”

Lou listened, reflecting on his own observations and he cleared his throat, “Yeah, by the looks of the poor sap, maybe it just hasn’t been his life. Fuck that old guy, he’s a man with a paper ass, and he’s probably no longer interested in checking out hot-shit brunettes like you and me, hey, kid?”

Johnny laughed and concurred, “Cold, man, cold! . . Yeah, you’re right, mister . . . right on, Lou . . . Fuck that old guy! You’re the man now!”

Johnny appeared relaxed by Lou’s presence and may have found a decent soundboard.

“Say, Lou, I mean this is something I think about, ’cause one day it’s going to happen to me, and no offense to you or anything like that . . . I mean, you’re an older guy. . . . How’d do ya think it feels to be like that old-geezer. The poor guy’s beat, all bent the fuck over and shit, he looked as if he’s never gonna get a good piece of ass the rest of his entire-fucking life. How’d ya like to be him?”

Lou, without missing a beat, “No, way! . . I don’t even want to be me. I’d rather be, you!”

“Well, at least you’re being honest. Vito, this guy next to me here, says that kind of stuff.”

Vito turned, hearing his name being mentioned and checked out Lou.

Johnny motioned towards Vito but kept his focus, “You two seem a lot alike. Vito don’t bullshit. I got a hunch you don’t either. Most old guys like to bullshit younger guys. Johnny don’t play that game . . . I wasn’t born to take shit.”

“I’d say Johnny’s a confident young man, living in the present, who’s hip to the situation.”

“I wish!” Johnny surveyed his territory. Rizzo’s watchdog presence was felt everywhere, and soon enough his authoritative eyes landed right on him. Johnny sensed the cold message.

In turn, Vito’s eyes leaned on Rizzo’s. Then Rizzo’s eyes ran the other way.

Johnny went back to being strictly business ‘til at least after the next roll. “Hey, we’re going to have to talk. Maybe you can give me a few pointers about dealing with women.”

Lou just, “Hmmmm . . . don’t think so.”

Fuck Rizzo. Then Johnny pondered about Lou’s unenthusiastic response. Yet Johnny sought a source and desired information.

“Whatta ya mean: ‘Hmm . . . don’t think so.’ . . . Hey, mister, you’re telling me a cat such as yourself hasn’t run around with a horde of women. Ya ain’t gay are ya?”

“Well I don’t think the amounts of women who have touched my life has anything to do with it. It’s just, in my case, and during instances between certain women and my self things have become complicated. On top of that, the older I get, the more I prefer the young ones, it seems kinda silly sometimes and maybe you can’t imagine, but with a man my age things are different, and unless ya have a lot of dough, what do they really want to do with half an old man?”

Johnny wouldn’t hear it, “Don’t be so fast to sell yourself short, my man. What about that brunette up on the boards? I’d say she was about 20. Hey, she might have been just right for ya. Young chicks today go big-time for mature guys. I see it all the time. Chicks I graduated with from high school, lots of them, are going out with old heads, dudes in their 30s-and-40s.”

“And just the same, today, the older chicks with any kind of looks don’t want to steer towards guys like you, I know; no offense, they wanna do the nasty with younger guys my age.

“You should see what happened to my buddy Brad last night. Then maybe it’s not that way nationwide as it is here, then maybe, everything is tipsy-turvey in this whacko crazy town!”

“Ya know, Johnny, maybe it’s a good time to mention, I too was checking out that brunette with the big jugs, that’s why I didn’t see ya coming down the boards. Don’t worry about me, I still look at ’em real hard.”

Johnny smiled more, “Hey, why not? I mean what the fuck, ya only live once.”

Putting on hold the two men’s conversation, Carl’s grubby hands rolled the dice. They rolled out a table-winning #10, in the form of two fives!


Carl and Phil exploded as if the Philadelphia Eagles had just won the Super Bowl!

The big woman performed an encore, and the rest of the table gobbled up their wins.

The sounds: an assortment of hoorays, a stirring, with patrons adjusting and adding up their stockpiles. Good indicators—good sounds!

Johnny paid off the winners in turn, moving from the table’s center to the left. First he paid off the two Hispanics, then dished out a black chip to the well-dressed man, then Phil and Carl, the fat lady. His payoff smile became somewhat wider when he finished up with Lou.

“There ya go!”

“A win’s a win,” replied Lou.

“What ya trying to tell me, ya plan to lose?”

“I try not to plan anything, but I’m here.”

“Christ, ya look like a winner to me, and you’re no bum in the park. You just cashed a grand here, and did so with that fat-fool over there rolling like he’s Jesus walking on water. Look, my man, in case you have noticed, ya just experienced a miracle! Ya just changed $600 into $1080 without doing any heavy lifting. Ya can’t be doing that bad.

“That’s what Vito tells ’em, right Vito?” Vito’s strong Italian features smiled, “You tell ‘im, kid.”

Lou took his last drag from his cigarette and smiled again. “Well, outta the mouths of babes . . . of course, with a little help of your man Mr. Vito. Thanks, young man. Besides being a talented unicyclist, all of a sudden you’re a fuckin’ prodigy of a philosopher.”

“No . . . I’m just saying, a lot of people think they have it bad and they really don’t”

“Who knows young man? Perhaps you’re worth listening to. Maybe, we can make some more numbers here? I need to whack some numbers, Johnny, my boy. Let’s pray, that like that old man, I haven’t had my last good piece of ass either. We’ll see.”

*  *    *

The third person!

Focusing on the game and with the casual talk, enabled Lou to cloud out much of the negative nipping away at him; those ominous aspects that might eventually have him frightfully doing-in his existence if he didn’t come through and win big became nova caned with the wins and fellowship.

The table talk with the young-friendly croupier settled him. He figured further from behind his pasted-on, affable mask. Within, he remained on guard, that he was at war, a fight to the death, perhaps with the devil, and he wasn’t about to give in what he had established, nor could he ill afford to share those esoteric thoughts with the young, inquisitive croupier named Johnny.

When at war it’s essential to form hardy alliances. To Lou, on the surface the young man appeared as friendly, cooperative sharp—perhaps the sent one—good fortune—a shining light—an angel—his guide on—sent by the side of good—helping him go up against the odds and defeat the devil.

“ANOTHER TEN!” hollered out Crowley.

Jumping on the bandwagon many became believers down the other-end of the table while whooping it up. A chant broke out. “Go with the flow!” Even Johnson picked-up-on and repeated the table’s new mantra.

With demonstrative exuberance, as could be expected; Carl, tossed his arms upwards, and plopped his hands on top his shit-covered forehead in astonishment!

The table became cocky and sure of themselves—burly, towered themselves over their latest boon like fat cats. They fingered and toyed with theirs piles. Carl and Phil gushed and exchanged a number of resounding high fives. In unison: “Go with the flow!”

New sharpies Carl and Phil appeared, all-stars, rubbing chubby workingmen’s hands together, basking with just-lit cigarettes dangling from their lips while both flashed inerasable grins. With a newfound confidence, by absorbing a winner’s limelight had their eyes darting and twinkling like victors. Standing tall with a reinforced resolve, they turned face-to-face and belly-to-belly like twin-Santas.

Carl rolled another winner! Both men began to snatch up their winnings. Then they braked. Instead of scooping the winnings, they chose to let stakes ride.

Carl winked at Phil.

Lou instinctively hadn’t waited for Carl to toss three-winning hits in a row. His own vibe said something and had been letting his winnings ride.

The making of the #10 by Carl equaled Lou’s $800 Lou wager up $100 front and his backside bet paid another $2400. Lou just eased $3600 off the table after the third roll.

Joe Rizzo came lopping Lou’s way, inching himself past the tunic clad backs of Vito and Johnny. “Would you care to be rated, sir?” he said respectfully.

“No, thanks,” answered Lou. “I won’t be in town long, and the casino has already been nice enough to offer me a suite for the night . . . that happened when I was playing roulette.”

Rizzo warmly extended a manicured palm. “Very well, good luck, sir. If you need anything just wave for me or otherwise tell Johnny here what you’d like. Johnny here is a good man; one of our best, he’ll take care of you.”

Rizzo patted Johnny on the flat of his back and forced a smile. He turned, still smiling, and strolled on back to his perch. Johnny could hardly believe his ears! It was the very-first time he remembered Joe Rizzo saying anything positive towards or about him.

Vito rocked on his heals and turned his head, ever so slightly, in Rizzo’s direction, as the Armani-suited, pit boss situated himself back at his post.

Johnny mouthed in a low tone, “That motherfucker busts my balls everyday. Now along comes you, and he’s making me sound like employee of the month. What the fuck, you the new-business agent from the casino-workers union or something?”

“Hah, I’m a business nothing. I’m just gambling. Maybe tonight you’ll turn out to be lucky for me.”

“That sure will make my life around here a little easier. An hour ago the guy was all over me!”

Carl and Phil oblivious to the rest of the world were chugging down beers in dramatic fashion.

Lou claimed another $1860 in profit. He let $600 ride on the next roll, he scattered some chips then buried the rest inside his windbreaker’s pocket.

The fat woman who earlier hit on the 8-to-1 payoff with double fives and began to lay heavier. Mismo for the guy in the pinstriped suit; he upped his ante to $300.

Chips flew around the table like bowled snacks at a Mon-Jon game. The two-mute Hispanics had yet to alter style or up their ante.

Towards Lou, “Tell me the truth! Whata ya know about broads?” asked Johnny in a lower tone.

“Are you kidding me?” came back a curt short reply.

“No, man, I’m serious!”

“Well, I’ll tell ya, Johnny, I’ve never been asked that question before. I might have to think about it for a second . . . but look, kid, I’m fucking gambling here.”

Johnny looked like a little boy who had just lost his balloon. On second thought Lou felt somewhat obliged, perhaps for the sake of all kids who look like they’ve lost balloons,”. . . if ya really want to know. . . .” Three beats. “It’s like this, young man. I was married for almost 19 years. And during that time I really messed up! I had a child out of wedlock with a woman or I should say, girl, who at the time was half my age. And to add fuel to the fire, within the month I’ve just broken off with one gem of a girl, a young lady who I was living with for four-and-a-half years. And I just came to New Jersey from Hawaii, you see, came over 6000 mile so to try and start something up all over again with this dysfunctional red head. And now, just like that, I now I have a new one!

“And if you’re still listening, and have three more spare seconds, I can tell you what I know about women. . . . NOTHING! ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!”

Johnny appeared miffed and shook his head when he said to Lou in a disappointed manner, “That doesn’t sound very promising.”

“Don’t be so bummed out. You’ll have to find everything out for yourself. Don’t get me wrong, I’d say there’s a good chance you could learn plenty about broads by hanging with me, but I’d doubt you would learn anything valid about real women.”

“I don’t get it?”

“Excuse my French, but fuckin’-right you don’t get it. You’re just like the rest of the shit-for-brains. . . Schmuck, there are broads, and then there are women. There’s a distinct difference. And if you’re anything like me, and I think you are. Don’t feel alone, ’cause we think like millions of other guys who think with their dicks all their lives.

“By the time you reach my age, you won’t really know more about women than you do today, unless you’re god-damned lucky and chain yourself to one good one, then try to stay happy, remain satisfied and stay put.”

“That sounds fucked!”

“No, my, young paratrooper, that’s just the way it is.”

“Christ, I thought I was going to be able to get some pointers from ya, about this girlfriend of mine; and on top of that, I was hoping you might advise me about how to handle this little tango I’m supposed to participate in tonight.”

“How’z, that?”

With another roll of the dice both Johnny and Lou held up on further talk.

Carl screamed out, “Geronimo,” like a wild-eyed Indian. The veins on his forehead swelled and protruded, and they looked as if they were going to rupture. One blue veiner ran crooked, like a road on a map, through the middle of the bird dung, which by then had dry and with his exuberance it crumbled the same way plaster peels and flakes off a deteriorating wall.

When Carl rolled the dice, his follow through had him slipping. He fell on the floor. Phil, in a panic, tried to help up the big fellow. Carl wouldn’t have it and pushed Phil off, and quickly propped himself up on one knee and peek-a-boo eyes bulged over the table’s edge, anticipating the dice’s outcome.

Regardless of the slip—”ELEVEN! . . . WINNER!”

Once up on his feet, both men latched on to one another and pogo stick danced.

Rizzo’s crew swung into action, dealing out chips.

Wanda, ‘Oh my goodness!’ placing her bonbon nabbing of a hand over her sure to be clogged heart. She flashed a starry eyed patriotic look as if the Star Spangled Banner was playing. She made a brazen gesture and unleashed a sugar-sweet smile, batting her eyes especially for Lou. Only to be nice and because he was still at war with the devil did Lou smile back.

The ‘smoothy’ let his money sit for a while and merely puffed-and-puffed on a freshly lit lung scorcher. He casually peered the other way.

The two Hispanic guys suddenly folded their tent and scooped up their winnings, pocketed their chips, and without fanfare, or at-least tipping the croupiers, they quietly slipped away, melding into the band of rubberneckers who had formed.

A good-sized crowd encircled the table. Two young bucks, pulling out wads of cash, were quick to take the Hispanic men’s place. The word was out. Opportunist had been alerted and reeled in by the leather lungs bellowing from Carl and Phil. CT-32 began to rock and roll.

“That seems funny?” quizzed Johnny.

“How’z that?” asked Lou over the noise.

Johnny spoke louder and faster as he paid off bets, “Those, two amigos, they split in the middle of a hot streak. This table is hot, and it’s not usual that anyone splits during a hot streak.”

“Maybe they had something to do.”

“They were weird anyway.”

Carl and Phil, in a charming sort of way, had captured the table’s heart. They were winners, and despite the antics they belched, farted and cursed their way to become the table’s driving force.

“I ain’t wasting no more time here! Give ’em to me!” He snapped his fingers. He rolled a 5-2 for a seven!

With payoffs taking place and additional side bets being placed and with new-outside action storming in from the crowd from various directions Lou took the time for a quick audit.

In the craps game he was up almost $8600 that included the $1000 laid, and the other $1000 already set aside, to back-up the opening number.

Fat Wanda was earning serious money too!

Johnny couldn’t talk; he was too busy. Vito dazzled sideliners with his handiwork. Crowley and Johnson skirted their end of the table, paying off a silent line up of chips patiently waiting to be duplicated. Joe Rizzo with his arms sternly folded and said nothing standing stoically, like a brooding Buddha.

Carl and Phil, the two sillies, went fishing in their pockets. They laid down two, crisp, one-hundred-dollar bills. They kissed them in unison, then as if synchronized they both bent over the table’s edge with their bellies hanging over.

Other patrons mimicked the men. They too kissed and pressed their chips the exact way as Carl and Phil.

Carl tossed out a 5-1 for a #6 . . . Six was the number!

The marker was placed.

More chips came raining down on the backside. There were no contraries. Blood was in the water and nobody around the table played with the house. Chips flew like flying saucers.

Some landed in the field. Fat Wanda no longer played one-red chip on the double-fives, she was risking $30, and she snuck another $30 on the double-threes. Lou tossed a hundred-dollar chip, mingling it with the other hard-six believers.

Johnny and the other men managed the chips wagered on The Come Line.

*    *    *

Placing wagers on certain numbers when sequences of numbers have been rolled does playing The Come Line. Only then does the opportunity arise. The Come Line activates only after the first roll, and when a game-winning number has been established and remain throughout the round and stay when an automatic winner comes up and if a losing Craps hadn’t been rolled.

Carl rolled again. The second roll was a #9.

If there’s money placed on the neutral Come Line, that very wager resting on the Come Line gets transferred up to the space marked for #9. The meaning: from that moment on, during that particular round, if a #9 is rolled before a #7, or a winning #6, then every time a #9 comes up it pays off in even money.

The best case scenario for Come Line players, is that the dice tosser will roll a cavalcade of numbers before he either makes his number (in this case #6) or before the roller Craps out with a-then inauspicious #7)

COME LINE boxes are squarely drawn out, near where the croupiers stand. There’s a pair of them; two rows of Come Line boxes on each end of the table. They’re drawn simply and scripted with bold-printed numbers inside the 8-by-8 inch squares. The numbers and borders are printed in red or gold, so they’re separated from one another, contrasted against the table’s vibrant green. The 4-5-6-8-9-10, are the numbers represented on the Come Line.

If the roller makes his number or craps out, everybody on the Come Line loses.

Carl was still screaming, “Go with the flow!” He rolled at least 12 continuous numbers before he connected with the #6, as he dramatically made the six, the hard way, (3-3,) a 36-to-1-shot.

Lou hadn’t played numbers on the Come Line. Nevertheless, he smartly waged $800 up-front, and ditto in the rears. He added to his total win that round, a serendipitous 2400 smackers because earlier he placed a black chip dead-center on the hard #6.

Some players accumulated big money while betting the Come Line. Carl provided a great ride. The #9 had manifested at least five times and those who played on the Come Line from the get go were paid even money on 4 occasions.

It was exciting and warmed the hearts of Johnny and the rest of the working crew seeing the fools having a good time. Too many times they witnessed poor son-of-a-bitches lose their everything. In their smoky view it was a healthy change of events.

*    *    *

When Johnny finished covering his territory, some contemplating time was afforded towards that night’s agenda—there was Candy—and then the supposed rendezvous with his buddy Brad. Then there were risks. If found out by his gal, the thoughts of possible repercussions sent a shiver, and for an idle moment, those woes dwarfed him. A chill ran through his innards.

Looking for some solace, again he sought out Lou.

Lou struck first and resumed a running dialogue with the young man. Johnny, not paying attention to Lou’s words was still within his thoughts. Coming to awareness Johnny leaned sideways in Lou’s direction and said in a lower voice which sounded more like a croak, “I got this girl friend named, Candy?”

Johnny’s beforehand kidding nature had Lou for the time being in a horsing-around mood, “That’s just great. I’m really fucking happy for you, Johnny.”

“Nah, c’mon, I ain’t fucking around. I go with this girl named, Candy, and maybe you can lay some bullshit on me. C’mon, I’m living up to my end of the bargain! . . And you’re winning!”

“What is she, blonde, brunette, red head?”

“Blonde, why?”

“Maybe I just want to get a picture of her in my mind.” Lou said evenly looking directly into Johnny’s eyes.

” . . . Oh! I see! You want me to talk about her tits and shit.”

Confused, Lou said, “My, man, you’re the one who wants to talk about this blonde named, Candy! . . Go ahead, try me, but don’t forget, I’m not one of your high-school pals. I don’t necessarily need to hear any locker-room talk. Now, if you’re serious? C’mon, give me a G-rated description.”

“You sure?”

“C’mon! Don’t toy with me. I’m living up to my end of the bargain too, remember?”

“Well, number-one, she’s sweet.”

“That’s very important.”

“She has great eyes; and she’s smarter than shit, and best of all, she’s nuts about me. I’ll hafta stop myself here, ’cause then I’ll wanna start talking about her ass and all.”

“Yeah! Yeah! Keep going . . . ”

“See! I knew that’s all ya wanted to hear!”

“Nah, just fucking with ya—just fucking with ya Johnny, go ahead.”

Johnny pressed his lips together.

“Well, anyway, here’s the deal . . . Tonight’s her parent’s wedding anniversary. They’ve been married about a hundred years or something. She’s supposed to stop by at the end of my shift and pick me up, as you know, I’m not driving right now, and she went ahead and volunteered to come here first, and take me home, so I can get a shower and all. . . at least that’s the part of the message I got.”

“So, what’s wrong with that? Isn’t that good enough for you? Whatta ya want from me? Want me to send you a letter from Desolation Row or something?”

“Oh, that’s cute. . . My stuck-back-in-Woodstock, father, listens to Dylan all the time . . . My problem is . . . Well, it’s like this, as much as I hate to admit it, she’s got me . . .”

“Sounds normal to me.”

“Yeah, but get this—by giving up on the other cuties I’m outta business . . . that’s a lot to lose. I mean, the poon-tang hunting has been fucking, super-duper lately, and curse me if you will, and I might even be bragging for your benefit when I’m tellingya, that there’s about half-dozen other bimbos whose bones I’ve been jumping on the side on a steady basis, and at the moment there’s another ten potentials on my short list.”

Lou put on a face and said, “You aren’t gonna start boring me are you Johnny?”

“No! C’mon! I hope not. For instance, supposedly, tonight, at the end of my shift, my buddy Brad is supposed to show up at this very table, and he’s supposed to . . . well according to him—and Brad doesn’t bullshit!” Johnny put the brakes his revealing dialogue to insure privacy and leaned further towards Lou. He spoke out the side of his mouth, “Well, he’s supposed to have these two-married chicks show up with him, and it’s all lined up.”

Leaning even closer and talking even lower, in a voice which became froggy, “These married bitches are going to be on his arm, old heads, but whose asses are still together. He lined it all up last night. The one bitch told Brad her and her girlfriend wants to get gooned up.”

*    *    *

Lou’s mind wasn’t prepped for the whole yack.

He hadn’t volunteered and hadn’t stepped up to the crap table to do any buddy-buddy counseling. It struck his memory, he had gone through those hoops last year, and it turned out to be nothing more than a major headache. Right then, he was supposed to be maintaining focus and more so, was mired in a fight-to-the-death with the devil!

While sword fighting with the numbers he had been spared of his-own problems, and up to that point, he only saw himself as pacifying Johnny, when he halfheartedly touched on Johnny’s specific gender problem. He hardly gave Johnny’s plight serious thought.

Right then it sounded as if things were getting complicated. He never suspected Johnny to press him on his supposed arrangement.

While Johnny waited for reaction about the fix the young man painted himself into, Lou felt compelled to say something.

Before he gave the young man his attention and feedback, he’d do some silent calculating for his own benefit, as to tabulate his war chest, adding up his battle spoils . . .

*    *    *

“So, you going to use protection?”

“With who, Candy or the bums?”

“With any of them.”

“Fuck no, Brah! I ride wet back, it’s the only way to go.”

“Aren’t you afraid of catching a little this or that?”

“Nah, I figure when Tom Cruise, Mick Jagger, or Jon Bon Jovi start dropping dead I’ll begin to worry. Them guys are way ahead of me. I don’t give a shit. As far as I’m concerned, ya only catch that AIDS stuff from taking it up the ass, and I don’t hafta worry about shit like that.”

Lou chuckled like a coconspirator, “I suppose you do have a point.”

“I ain’t worried about these two, they’ve been married.”

“Hey! What if you-and-your buddy’s new action are into it on a steady basis, you know, and these two women do the nasty with strangers every weekend? Ya never know who they’ve been banging? And maybe, at the same time their old men may not embrace the idea of fidelity. They might run around with infected hookers?”

Johnny just sniffed. For the moment he didn’t want to hear anymore and desired to ward off Lou’s bad omens.

Then, discounting the negative, Johnny shot back, “They’re actually kind of choice! I’m telling ya, they’re radical! I’ve seen ’em both. Listen, Brah, I’d guess, they might be almost too-hot-to-handle . . . nah-nah take that back, brah, Brad and me will slaughter ’em.

“One of ’em even gave Brad a deep-throat BJ . . . did it last night, right on the outside this bar we was in, in the parking lot. Brad hooted afterwards! Said she was an All-Star—loved to take the charge . . . swallowed it all down. They’re rich bitches and are supposed to have a rented room right upstairs! So, after my shift we’re supposed to drink some champagne in the lounge, and then go up and get naked and shit.”

“I thought you said you had a problem? That doesn’t sound like mail from Desolation Row.”

“It may not seem like a problem to you, but if Candy shows up at the same time as Brad and them—the minute she sees Brad with them-two bitches, she’s gonna put two-and-two together! My ass will wind up in a sling. I don’t want that to happen, and to tell you the truth, not to sound too-mushy or anything, I don’t wanna hurt her.”

Lou’s teeth clamped down on the filter tip of the cigarette. With each titillating piece of the puzzle, the cigarette moved up and down, dancing perhaps to the sauciness of the story, but at the same time, he was somewhat amazed with the nerve of this kid.

“Oh, poor baby, ya don’t want to hurt her! Tsk. tsk, tsk! So, you’re a little weasel and here you want your piece of cake and want to eat it too.”

“I know that! What the fucks that? some sort of trying-to-make-me-feel-shitty bad cliché. Don’t tell me that shit! Tell me what you would do?”

“What do I know? Call her off or something. Call your buddy, Brad. Call the bums. Maybe you should leave me out of it.”

“I’ve tried phoning Candy, and Brad too, done so during my breaks, there was no answer. I don’t know the two bitches’ number. I wouldn’t take the chance and call them anyway. And then, I couldn’t do that to Brad either you know this is a major score for him! You can only imagine, and you know as well as anybody, choice, willing pussy ranks high on the dukey ladder and rates as supreme! For that matter, I may be a young dude, but I’m aware ya don’t turn down two things in life: ya never refuse hot pussy or jumbo, shotgun hits off some choice weed. Am I right or what, Brah?”

Lou didn’t answer.

“Besides, if I can’t handle, Brad will rise to the occasion.”

Lou stared down and he put on sardonic smile then looked over towards the young man. “So, Johnny, all-of-a-sudden you’re a philosopher. You’ve figured it out. You don’t wanna risk your main squeeze’s girlie-girlie emotions, but deep down, ya got this yearning, and you’d rather go upstairs and goon up the two-older chics! But then, there’s a chance sweet Candy might find out and discover just what a low life of a scum bag you really are, and that will embarrass you. Even a degenerate such as yourself has to realize there’s a strong possibility once exposed you might lose her altogether?”

“I don’t agree with your description of me, but I’d say you have a good handle on it.”

Lou went for the jugular, “It, you say? It! It’s a choice! It, must be great, banging new bums a couple of times a week behind the back of your girl friend. With all this talk, you make an old geezer such as me feel somewhat jealous, telling me you’re doing it so often with new, bright-eyed hussies, and here you’re acting and sounding oh-so-broken hearted with your problem.”

“It is a problem for someone in my position!”

“Position! Position smidgen! Ya got ’em all shivering under you, naked and breathless, them making noises, making noises nobody else’s ears hear other than their loves, and within your life, right now, you, young motherfucker, there’s bundles of oodie-ah-ah and you’re licking-it, loving-it, loving-it, licking-it. So, kiss my fucking ass!”

Unbeknown to Johnny, with Lou he struck a nerve. “Ya, little prick, ya, pretending like you want advice?”

“You’re being a little rough on me aren’t ya.”

“I haven’t even begun!” Lou laughed, laughed at himself as if he relished the new role, a role he never rehearsed for.

“You’re dumber-and-luckier than shit! Ya oughta be hung.”

“C’mon, Lou! Don’t be that way! I ain’t fucking with ya! I know what I’m telling ya, and I know what it sounds like! Tell, me! . . . Tell, me on the up and up. What’s a guy to do?”

Lou’s only expression-—I-can-see-through-your-ruse. He busted his new buddy’s balls. The rousting on the most part was supposed to be good-natured and a big brother’s sort of helping-handed, yet a serious side was unveiled for Johnny’s sake. Still Lou desired the ribbing to be at least thought provoking. Still with the heartbreak and being on the edge of impoverishment, Lou permitted himself to have a little fun.

“Do you really want to talk about this stuff, Johnny?”

“Yeah! I ain’t Joshing! I mean, I figured I got chic problems, and you look like a guy whose had a few yourself. I’m coming clean here. I don’t even talk shit like this with, Brad, or my old man!”

Lou said, “Then I’ll take you at your word. OK, lets really look at this gobbly-goop in a pragmatic fashion; you say your buddy and these two married women are stopping by the table tonight, and you’re all supposed to go off together?”

“Yeah, Holmes! In less than a fucking hour!”

“Look! Why not take this approach . . . ”

*  *    *

Before Lou could begin to sort out Johnny’s dilemma, Carl’s booming voice commanded the attention of the table.

Old shit face extended both of his hands high above his head making a sign for quiet. He readied himself and everybody else for some-sort-of-an announcement and rotated his body in a semicircle, establishing face-to-face contact with everyone on the front line.

“Ladies and gentlemen! I wanna make an announcement! I gotta tell ya, . . .” The man thinly veiled his sincerity. He play acted his voice. “Right now! . . At this moment . . . I don’t feel it! And that might be a good sign. I don’t feel I can make the number this time. I warned ya! . I just thought I’d let ya all know.”

Boos and Bronx cheers rose up.

“Me and my partner here are going to bet light this roll, then play the Don’t-Pass Line, that’s if I hafta make a number . . .”

He blew his beer breath into his cupped hands.

“Remember, yous guys, lady luck is with me and Phil! If ya go heavy on the Pass-Line don’t friggin’ blame us. Remember, ‘go with the flow!'”

Some saw Carl’s warning as poppycock hollering out, “Bull shit!”

Other drunks cooed, “Oh, Carl, don’t be that way . . . you, da guy!”

Some heeded the forecasted ebb tide, easing off, easing off what was perceived as winning wave of right-on combinations. Noticeably. the first off the mark became the steady wager set by the big woman. She halved her normal wager. She laid off the double fives and the double threes. She switched to the Do-Not-Pass Line.

The diamond-studded sharpy pulled back his normal bet. Lou shrugged his shoulders and said quietly under his breath, “Go with the flow.” He pulled back some of his placed bet, leaving put a lesser wager of $200.

Carl slowed down his boisterous demeanor and became serious. And rather than in his normal swash buckling manner he passively rolled the dice.

The opening roll was #4. The table—much more quiet. With the #4 established, Carl and Phil pressed the $200, placing back up money on the Do-Not-Pass-Line. Their movements were in tandem—as if choreographed.

Throwing caution to the wind, Lou played along with Carl and Phil’s bold statement. He laid a $1000 on the Do-Not-Pass-Line.

It took just two uninspiring rolls for Carl to tumble out a round-ending #7.

Some boos rang up from around the table.

No boos came from Lou. He had auspiciously won back the laid thousand, doing so by taking Carl’s advice and going the other way. The $200 loss on the Pass-Line-—the price of doing business.

Carl and Phil once again came to life and spouted out towards others an endless tirade of ‘I told yas sos!’

With the rolling of the losing #7 Carl concluded his run producing, “at bat,” a fruitful plate appearance. Phil was on deck and prepared himself to pick up the dice.

“C’mon, buddy! Keep it going!” shouted an encouraging Carl.

Carl handed over the dice. Yet, he wasn’t about to give up the spotlight. He nudged Phil’s frame. He placed himself up close and right in front of Phil, talking loudly enough to be overhead while spouting words unrelated, “We’re both going to fuck the shit out of the bitches later on!”

Phil didn’t care! He was used to Carl. He was super psyched, just to have a chance to get his own mitts on the dice.

A group of casino employees approached, including armed guards pushing a pushcart loaded with cases of casino chips. The ensuing action broke the routine, so for them to do a quick casino audit, and to resupply the table with chips.

Joe Rizzo took charge and grabbed onto a clipboard, and placed his head together with one of the new men, as to tally and substantiate the newly arrived reserves.

During the interlude Johnny praised Candy. He told Lou, how she was bright, and sweet, and kind to everybody. He gave Lou the rundown that she’s number one. He said she was just perfect.

Lou, a little drunk, not ready to walk off to the gallows, digested the info.

“What about, you? Ya got a girl friend?” queried Johnny.

“Sort of.”

“Who, the red head ya just came 6,000 miles to be with?”

“No. Actually, that’s over. I sort of got a new one.”

“Talk about me. Ya don’t waste much time do ya? What’s her name?

While peering down at his chips, the name of his latest came evenly off of his lips. Lou went and said, “Carrie . . .”

“Well there’s something in common, seems we both have girlfriends, whose first names begin with “C.”

“What’s her last name?”


“Fisher—Carrie Fisher? Nah! Not the chick from the Star Wars movies!”

“That’s the one!” Lou was blatant, “Who else?”

“Holy shit! I never met anybody who went out with a real-fucking movie star!”

“Well, to be honest, we’re not seriously going together, that’s not just yet . . . and maybe we never will, but . . .”

“So, what’s she like? Along with all that Hollywood and other shit . . .”

“It’s hard to explain. I mean, I’m just getting to know her.”

“Think it will work?”

“It depends on tonight.”

“Whatya trying to do earn enough dough to buy a huge engagement ring?”

“Ha! That would be something!”

“So where’s she now, is she in town for the weekend?”

“No, I suspect she’s either in California or Florence Italy, she lives both.”

Johnny’s eyes widened. “Wow! That would be something, living part time out on the West Coast and the other part of the year in fucking Europe. Man, them movie stars have it dicked!

“So, let me think this thing out and all, since you’re not much help. This might be just perfect! Since your present babe is out of town and all, what if Brad shows with these two hot-to-trot mamas? . . . And what if about the same time Candy shows up? Whatta you say you do me a big favor, Mr. Lou? Why not take my place, ya know with, Brad? Now that’s only, only if they all show up at the same time. That would relieve some pressure. Then I can explain to Candy they’re with you. With that said, I’ll just give Brad a high sign. He’s sharp. He’ll ease right into it. Later, I can tell Candy you’re the one who recruited Brad to help you out with the two babes. I can even say you tried to recruit me, but I turned ya down. Yeah, it would be as if I’ve had nothing to do with it?”

“You’re overdoing it, Johnny.”

“C’mon, think of it, you can be the lucky one, getting your pipes cleaned, and doing a tag-team act with Brad. I don’t think they’ll give a damn about you being old or anything, especially once they find out you do Carrie Fisher.”

“Johnny, you’re out of bounds!”

“Look, right now they don’t even know me. I’m sure they’re just out to get banged.”

“You know, Johnny, ya just don’t get it. You see, I’ve been there and done that. As a matter of fact, that type of venue used to be me and my best buddy’s favorite set up.

“You know, kid, there’s a perverse darkness which brews inside me which would really like to help you out, help you to remain a devious leech, help you to conspire, and even in the recent past, you may of had a solid ally right here in me. Right now, I won’t rule out your premise. I might be willing to run a thin smoke screen for ya or something, but only for the sake of, Candy. She sounds like a nice girl, probably too nice for you, But ya know, like I say, that sort of sordid activity in my view is old hat. I really don’t think I’m capable of getting the same sort of thrill out of that kind of thing anymore, plus, be sensible enough to not mess things up. Bear in mind I’m starting out this new relationship with, Carrie, and I wouldn’t want to do anything to spoil it.”

“So, what you’re saying is that you’re not interested in any trim action from these two? Don’t be so fast to quit! Wait ‘til ya see them, brah!”

“Would you prefer for me to say something like, if you go along with the two bums . . . Then what if little-old innocent me escorts your, Candy, doing so as a gentleman while taking her to her parents anniversary party, then maybe I’ll liquor her up and seduce her, then maybe put an old man’s meat to her.”

“Hey, Lou, whatta ya turning out to be some sort of fucking wise guy?” Johnny’s face turned flush red, “I don’t like that sort of talk! It’s not funny!”

“Cool your fucking jets! I was only looking to strike a nerve.”

“Yeah, but you shouldn’t say shit like that man, that’s my chic.”

“So, if you think so much about your chic . . .” When Lou said, chic, he accentuated the word so, his head stirred emphatically, but slow-like, and his mouth pursed in a tight, indignant circle, doing so up close in Johnny’s direction, almost in his face.

Lou mockingly voiced back toward the young man to the tune of what he perceived as a spit out insult toward this girl named, Candy. He placed a spin on his voice, so he sounded more like a Valley Girl rather than a brother in arms, who claimed to be a loyal member and part of the male conspiracy, whose primal aims were to seduce, fondle and penetrate more-and-more pussy.

But nevertheless, Lou sent Johnny a clear-clear message.

Lou’s tone hammered home immediate impact, pounding Johnny’s kid logic with heavy-handed body shots of, “Have you listened to yourself lately? Talking that way about the person who’s supposed to be the love of your life, and doing so in front of a total stranger!”

“How do you know how I feel about my chic? I mean, girlfriend.”

“From what you’ve told me, you can’t feel that much. I don’t think it’s very becoming of you, you spouting to me some of her attributes, and then you attempting to conspire with me so to fuck her over.”

Lou followed up, “Johnny, don’t you see, you’ve been selling me on Candy, making her feel like almost a friend, and then you want me to play into your little game? I’ve let good friends get away with that sort of shit in the past. Why should I permit a total stranger to do it to me? And furthermore—not to sound like some asshole—you is the asshole! You, who wanted to strike a bargain and remember, remember, you’re the one who wanted a few pointers. So, here I am trying to parlay some money, but since ya been asking and laying your trip on me, now I feel as if it’s my duty.”

Johnny was befuddled!

Lou roughed Johnny up, in retrospect while in the throes of his own fight, he decidedly shifted his tone. It was time to exercise some damage control. “OK, OK, let’s get back to base. Don’t worry I’m still a practical guy. You know what I’m saying? You asked for help. I’m trying to help out your-young ass.

“I like to think I know how young guys see the world when it comes to action, but it might not be a bad idea for you to start taking some stock and consider what you have. I’m sure the two bums are knock outs, just bubbling over with eroticism, and they would give me some great exercise, exercise I surely could use, but I have other fish to fry. Like I say, I don’t know jack shit about women anyway, why complicate matters.”

Johnny, not satisfied but one not to quit, “Well, at least think it over awhile will ya? You make the call when the time comes.”

*  *    *

The chips were unloaded counted and stacked in the croupier area and finally the game was ready to get back on track.

Phil was given the green light to roll. Phil lamely attempted to copycat Carl’s method, but nevertheless, he rapidly tossed the dice with all the bets placed. So excited he was, he tossed the dice too hard; they flew clear off the table.”

“Yo, big guy!” hollered Carl, “Settle down!”

The dice were retrieved and Phil grasped them eagerly, afraid perhaps because of his errant throw he may have lost his turn. When he rolled the second time their bird-shit luck held, still going with the flow and he rolled an immediate winner!

They picked up where they left off. The three-quarter circle of happy players hooted and yelled.

Carl slapped Phil on the back.

Lou had placed $1500 on the Pass Line and quietly added the winning chips to his burgeoning stockpile. He gazed over again at Vito DeMarco’s timepiece—it was 10:27.

Phil didn’t have the resolve to imitate Carl. His version, while trying to duplicate his buddy’s style, was more abbreviated. In a short span of four minutes he rolled four-more winners.

Most at the table pressed their bets. Many let it ride. Excitement filled the air. The guy in the black suit was betting at least five hundred at a clip. The big woman next to Lou glowed.

The table was swinging along to the beat of the quintet near by playing jazz favorites.

CT-32 was happening!

A horde of exotic looking women all decked out, on preying mode, with acute, sugar daddy senses picking up the scent of freshly made money, sniffed their way around the table. The hookers could smell it too. They ramrod toward the front and cropped up around the edge of the table like dewy mountainside mushrooms. A couple of supposed big deals from upstairs in management planted themselves next to Joe Rizzo.

The croupiers worked with more vigor. The boon something special. Players feeling both lucky and generous handed over substantial tips towards the men manning the table, some tips, black chips, an unheard of practice amongst the mostly, cheapskate gamblers who frequented A.C.

Even Phil and Carl chipped in fifty apiece, tipping Johnson a case black chip. The croupiers were grateful as beggars in Mexico, and saw a chance to make even more propinas and continued to service the table with enthusiasm as to wish the casino’s patrons “bueno suerte.”

Carl and Phil bounced to the music. Lou put down a serious $3000. Phil rolled a #8.

“Make that, motherfucker!” urged Carl, assuming his vulgarity had become standard fare. He peppered them with a litany of utterances, voicing so with a freshly lit cigarette hanging from his lips.

From behind the two fatsoes and through the sea of onlookers Bunnie and Vivian arrived for their rendezvous with Carl and Phil.

They had retired and hung up their cocktail attire and then were decked out in provocative street clothes, dolled up and ready to hang out with the two shit heads and then perhaps to do up the town.

“Hiiiiy!” They said simultaneously, saying their howdy-dos in the same syrupy way, Lou’s furniture-selling buddy used to greet shoppers.

“We got off a little early. How you two studs doing?”

“Girls! Girls!” gushed Carl, hardly able to contain himself. “We’re killing them! Look!” Boasting for the women, he flashed a hand full of black chips then pointed to hefty reserves in his chip reservoir.

Bunnie eyed Vivian in a I-told-you-so manner as if they had made the proper choice.

Phil didn’t know which move to make next. He became perplexed, unable to decide if he could afford the time to acknowledge the women’s presence, or if he should keep his focus on the dice. He suffered from a tinge of jealousy, realizing Carl would be doing all the talking with the women and looking to steal Vivian.

However, Carl was hip and patted Phil on the back while keeping true to the cause. The rest of the players on the eager table screamed out with impatience to roll the dice, viewing the two pick ups as a crap-table distraction. They shouted, “C’mon, roll the dice! Get back into the game, roll that makeable #8.”

Lou backed up the front line’s $3000 and with then another three grand on the back line.

“We’re having a mad hour!” Carl bubbled towards the women. “Girls! If he hits the 8, it’s Mums all night!”

“You go right ahead, honey,” cooed Bunnie. “Maybe we can bring you more luck.”

Phil rolled a long sequence of field numbers. Lou had placed $500 in The Field. Others laid heavy wagers on the Come Line. Phil’s dice attained hard-6s, hard-10s and hard-12s. Each of those combinations had serious money placed on them and the standard odds were paid. Wanda never lipped more, “Oh, my goodnesses!” in her entire life. By playing the side action most had recouped their front-and-back line bets, before the final number was determined.

At last! “EIGHT’S THE WINNER!” shouted Crowley.

The throng’s most grandiose roar exploded out and launched itself to the chandeliers!

Johnny cupped his hand and shouted towards Lou, over the hoots and shouts, “I ain’t ever seen anything like this!”

*  *    *

So, here I am!

We’re together again. Our cast of characters, myself included, are in the thick of it—we’re in the jungle—inside the jaws of the lion—cooking—for now we’re impervious to the fires of hell—we’re involved in a do-or-die situation—it’s a holy war against the devil!

I’ve thrown caution to the wind. I’m actually feeling much better. Funny, what winning can do. I figure, so far I’m fortunate. I’ve eluded worst-case scenarios.

I could have busted out right after I came through the front door and could have lost my stash. That would have been terrible, then I would have had to mope around the casino with my hands in my pockets, devastated, faced with the burden of having to carry through the deed, and wait around for the crowds to thin, and then, probably while weeping, I would have staggered down to the water’s edge way-way before I would have preferred.

I must be cautious. At least I’ve had lively rip-roaring action come hell or high water. Maybe I’ve been off base, so what, right, wrong, up or down or indifferent, something’s gonna happen and something special tells me I’m right on scheduled one way or another, win or lose.

I’m feeling good for once in my life!

I’m cleansed! Uplifted I am, about being totally honest about my feelings and how I’ve come clean with you! Maybe I’ve saved young Johnny Lombardi from going down the same path of doom.

So, I’m standing here giving it my all.

Oh, you may think it’s been easy and I may even appear as relaxed on the outside, yet anxieties still persist. You can’t see me but if you could, you would observe how my hands rivet themselves in monkey wrench fashion to the table’s edge.

I’ve got the devil by his balls! And I can feel his tug; feel the bastard squirming, knowing full well as long as I hold on and keep in the present and maintain the resolve of Sir Galahad the devil son-of-a-bitch is not going anywhere.

There’s a glint, a ray of hope, if I play my cards right I just might see the light of tomorrow. I want to savor tomorrow while eating fried eggs and enjoying the morning paper and if the grace of whomever shines on me, I’ll humbly bask in glory, but at the same time I’ll do it while walking around with an inerasable smirk on my stupid face.

My heart’s a-pounding, and I’m up a whopping 200K!

I’m four-fifth of the way toward my quixotic goal. If this is an indication the way things are going—for once in my life I’m gonna do it!

Still, I must be very-very cautious, the same as a coach on the road with a slight lead, with the clock is winding down; you know the ole clichés . . .

I scan the table’s edge. A strange bunch . . .

In the past I dreamed about such nights. I suppose to put a dramatic spin on it, I mostly envisioned myself playing along in tandem with the likes of James Bond, dressed to kill, doing so at some swank resort on some high-stakes table.

Mr. Bond and I would have been kicking ass and making numbers, and later on, for us, there would sure to be fine champagne and thick-lipped women. In reality, my sea of thoughts never considered me then swimming with such unlikely sharks, especially the likes of two-bottom fishes such as Carl and Phil.

The two Flintstones so far have controlled the dice for the last half hour, and the fishing has been good, and they’ve swelled my sea chest and I also find it odd those two, goof balls have been intimately joined by two wayward mermaids.

As for the rest, on any given night they’d be considered as a slimy bushel-full of fish bait, who were about to go down while on the Poseidon.

This is not the time to be judgmental—not about the rest of the chumps—not about Johnny Lombardi, and certainly not a time to try and sort out his trite trim problems—not while in the throes of it, especially when you’re swimming upstream and wrestling with the devil and knowing at a defining moment a cold wind could come and fill the air and might rattle one’s logic, ’cause then I have to call on what resources I have left in my tank to thwart such staggering power. In order to achieve I must excel within the vortex, and remain swashbuckling while inside his tower of death.

For now, I’ll have to shelve pleasant thoughts of Carrie, the new flower in my life. Sorry, honey, I’ll have to put you on hold and you can’t be in the picture. Then again chics have only messed things up at crucial moments.

It’s mano vs. Diablo!

*    *    *

The two buffoons caught fish in a barrel. The newly arrived women, despite their high mileage they both possessed a certain luster. Their presence added to the high energy that already generated the table. The thrill gage had been turned up a notch or two.

Looking relatively sleek and hungry for fun, the gay divorcees, with plunging necklines, held-on-tight to the two men and placed their arms through the free ones while hinging themselves. When they cheered their cleavages jiggled.

Both men winked each other with a wow of ‘look-what-we’ve-got-here.’ They interpreted the woman’s outward affection as a green light, a sign that supposedly gave them permission to grope them suggestively. As usual Carl and Phil absorbed the wrong message.

Joe Rizzo bit his lower lip . . . Johnny gawked . . . Vito laughed to himself . . . Crowley and Johnson gave each other glances . . . the big woman acted as if such overt actions were repulsive . . . the smooth guy smirked . . . the rest could have given a fuck!

Their enthusiasm was such: at the conclusion of a rolling round, and once clear-cut winners were established, and just after the tension broke, while still puffing away on their Benson and Hedge’s menthols, the two women in unison would unlatch themselves from the two Bozos to clap their hands. With girlish enthusiasm they clapped like high-school cheerleaders and merged their bursts of hysteria with other squeals that said, “Oh, my goodnesses!” “Go with the flows,” and “Attah, babies!” and “You, da man!”

At times the adulations were so tumultuous, Johnny and Lou were forced backwards by a surging intangible power as it swept past their very-own faces and as it thundered up-up-and-away like some passing fury.

Was it the sounds of victory?

Could it have been the agonizing screams of the devil?

Lou summed maybe there was more than just-one piss ant rather than himself who gripped the devil by the balls?

*  *    *

I had to be especially careful. It was a sinister time, when the devil is known to be the most dangerous—he’s been known to strike when otherwise meek mortals are most confident. Beelzebub wrote the devil’s book, a master of disguise and deceit when it came to turning a positive into a negative.

Oh, yes, I was very much in the present, and in the real, and me, this little peon of oneself mustered the up the courage and power so to have ole Lucifer’s stones within the grasp of my Karmic-energized vice. But at the same time I had better stay god-damned rigid, forthright, mightier than ever, and stay fortified-and-full of my own ass-kicking power or I was gonna be a dead man!

Then again, the fools were hitting like hell, the table’s players were a solid-unit, and only differentiated themselves by the amounts of their laid bets.

Yet, I couldn’t suppress the old libido that tugged at my admiration for the idea of sexy women. I further inspected and took a closer glance at the two off-duty, cocktail waitresses, and I couldn’t help to be impressed how the two louts picked up the pair of not-so-bad-looking women. And I became somewhat mesmerized how they seemed so enthused; and despite the fact they were a far cry from being big deals, it was hard for me to imagine those two women being interested in the two nobodies for any length of time.

As usual it seems, despite my newly vowed faithfulness towards Carrie, and despite the sobering reality, that I was at war with the devil, brothers and sisters, you understand the same as me I was rolling the dice . . . they don’t look like hookers, more or less they’re probably lonely same as me, more like divorcees who are out for the night just looking for a nice time.

There was a lull. . .

Turning towards Johnny, I sensed him tightening up. His expression began to change. His attention focused over my shoulder and his handsome face twisted just a tinge, and then that handsome young face uglied.

“Oh, shit!” he said, as he nervously exhaled.

I had to catch myself as to not-suddenly turn around. Still I was eager to see.

“My man, Johnny!”

My ears picked up a stirring coming from behind me. I assumed the greeting came from Brad.

Brad’s voice, “Brother, we’re in for the good times.” I could only imagine his smug face. Brad squeezed up next to me, extending a hand toward Johnny and began an exaggerated wind up, as to slam on his buddy a corner-style, handshake.

Quick to brake Brad’s advance, Johnny reacted.

“Ho, cuz!” barked Johnny. “No touching here! Want my fuckin’ boss to have a seizure? Chills, brah! . .”

“Ho! Sorry! I forgot!” Brad cleared his throat and reached behind him and nudged forward the two-accompanying women. Their images were by then within my peripheral. The two women were nudged forward to the front by Brad. At first the women wore enchanting grins, yet those grins quickly gave way to annoyance, as if becoming impatient, realizing they were dealing with boys, as Brad went on. They didn’t wish to become privy to an ongoing series of young-men’s rituals.

Brad boyishly, “Johnny! Uhm! . . This is, Claire, and this is Claudine.”

Both husband-cheating strumpets faces turned again, this time with hungry looks as they eyed Johnny.

With grin Johnny had to bite his bottom lip, bringing about self-inflicted pain, so to suppress a wicked smile. He couldn’t erase the juicy thoughts, about just what the two women had come out for. In Johnny’s view, he was amused about the notion, he knew what they knew—and they knew that he knew—and best of all, understanding what Brad had sampled the night before, was also going to be his for the using. He sensed the two bums as sizzling hot, perhaps to be roughed up a little, to be grabbed by the scruff of their necks and bent-over-the-craps table, to have their hair pulled right there and have the meat put to them. Those titillating calculations shivered Johnny, how in about twenty-five minutes or so, the two, wild-and-crazy, uninhibited sluts would be twisted every which way while star-buck naked!

*  *    *

The intrusion by Brad and the two dolled-up cheats was a brief interlude that demanded attention from the table. All were entitled to a brief glance.

Carl and Phil and the game were still the main event and they and their two-recent supporters still held onto center stage.

Once again the gamblers engines began revving and the chips moved about. Johnny and the crew shored up the bets, doing so and staying as busy as defenders on the walls of the Alamo. The players eventually broke away from their distractions and focused attention on the upcoming roll.

Phil began shaking his full fist with what by then had become a maven’s bone rattle of the dice.

I eased $5000 on the Pass Line. Johnny said nothing and even ignored Brad, and so did the women as to give the moment some reverence. The table was laid heavy—down solid with the roller.

Fat Wanda was lying black, the smooth guy a G-note, Carl and Phil, $500 each!

Both off-duty cocktail waitresses began to bite their thumbnails, and their mascara made-up eyes became glassy. Brad stayed silent too. He maneuvered a toothpick, it doing some sort of longneck goose dance, moving in his mouth from side to side in rapid fashion. He shook his head up-and-down in even fashion. His well-scrubbed, devious face gazed over a green-felt field, which was abundantly sprouting thousands-of-dollars worth of black chips.

Phil readies himself to go. He peered in Joe Rizzo’s direction as if looking for the green light. Rizzo mouthed the, A-OK, without sound, and before he could finish such a whisper, on cue, Crowley extended his tunic-draped sleeve and said, “No more bets!”


Eruptions burst from the table! Feet stomped, hands clapped and the whoops broke off into their own pockets of individual revelry.

With the winning roll I was over 200K in the black!

Rizzo said, “Pay the lone ranger in purple!”

Johnny snatched most of my black chips and replaced them with purple ones worth $500 each.

Lined up and leaning on one another was my sizable stash, they sat there, as if they were a freshly opened pack of giant-size, Necco Wafers in the true form of twenty-thousand dollars, (40 purple) nestled within an etched-out, chip reservoir. The rest were stuffed inside both pockets of my windbreaker.

Johnny paid out more chips. The patrons deliciously scooped up their winnings with gusto.

That fast! They we’re back laying the next wager.

Johnny presented a free moment so to give the two women some time, time other than by just awkwardly grinning.

Johnny said, “Say, Claire, Claudine, say hi to, mi amigo, Senior Lou, here. He’s considered a big timer around here! He also owns this giant yacht and he’s sailing off to Europe, taking 50 people along, nobody has to spend a dime.”

Vito rolled his eyes!

The women didn’t look impressed.

“No, shit! Brad here will vouch for it! ”

Brad shook my hand.

Johnny went on, “I ain’t kidding, everybody in AC knows, Lou, here, he’s a heavy.” Johnny spoke of me as if I was an old salt.

I looked downward. I wasn’t sure just what Johnny was up to. I play acted, tried to appear innocent, far from hip, not tipping my hand, or even Johnny’s, one-way or another. Johnny surprised me; he squinted his eyes, choosing his words carefully and substantiated his gift of gab.

The women’s’ beforehand chill thawed and they began coming around, but at the same time, they remained somewhat distant and uneasy. Their apparent nervousness had them constantly pressing down the sides of their pants suits, readjusting their outfits, while shifting their weight on stiletto pumps, acting as if they’re really weren’t paying attention, perhaps thinking they may have been the brunt of some wise-guy joke.

Because of Johnny’s tone and his inference to me, Brad probably sensed there was a detour in the warp like planned trek up the sucky-fucky highway.

Smoothly, Brad began treating me affably, in a contrived manner almost overdoing it as if we’re longtime buddies. I considered from what Johnny told me, those two had played the game before. The thought ran across my mind, Broadway doesn’t often offer more-striking performances.

Brad’s con in front of the women: “My man, Lou! Where ya been, Bermuda? How’s the boat running?”

He shook my hand again, placing his trusty hand on my shoulder, and soon enough he had the women thinking I could have been his favorite uncle.

The women calmed.

*    *    *

Everybody’s was making fucking money! More sexy-looking women appeared! I could almost hear the string-band music playing “Happy Days Are Here Again.” The fucking devil works in conniving ways!

Vito smiled like a proud overseer. Joe Rizzo rapidly conversed on the phone while giving accounts to bigwigs in some inner-sanctum somewhere above.

Carl, in bad taste, flaunted a sick libido, acting lewd. One of the off-duty cocktail waitresses, while maintaining a sense of dignity, had already given him four-or-five, naughty-boy slaps.

I erased out the distractions. I needed to think about the end game. I was cool, having a partial grip on it. I pragmatically decided it essential that I strategically approach the end game, approach it with even more diligence than during the beginnings. If I wanted to be somebody I couldn’t let myself lose focus.

There was something else pumping through my veins.

I felt a passion! My entire physical self became overcome with a riveting sensation! I wanted to live! I did! I did! I wanted to find Carrie! Fuck this shit! I believe I can eventually straighten out here. So what will I do?

I took a deep breath and decided to lay ten-big ones on the next roll.

If fat Phil duplicated an opening number, tossing an opener between #5 and #10, I’d back up the number with another 10K.

Knowingly, if he were to convert the very number and be successful doing the deed at least twice; I would collect about $28,000.

My final plan, If Phil hit twice in a row, I’m outta there!

“What’s your last name, Lou?” asked the woman named, Claire.

” . . . Zerillo . . . Lou Zerillo.”

“Piezzann, huh?”

“What else?”

I winked at Johnny, giving Johnny the assumed sign that he could count on this old guy just in case things begin to get sticky.

The woman glanced at one another seductively impressed by the size of the bet I was going to lay.

Brad encouraged me, “Go for it, buddy!”

With anticipation the gamblers scoped Phil’s every move as he wound up. He reared off to let go as the throng leaned over the table with mouths opened and eyes bugged!


The table’s patrons stirred, adjusting their chips, while backing up bets.

“Oh, my goodness!” said fat Wanda and she placed a solo $100 chip on the hard, double-fives. Within fifteen seconds at least $3000 was wagered on the double-fives, paying if hit, at 8 to 1. There was at least $50,000 wagered on the outcome!

Onlookers on the outer edges fished into their pockets, and like passing buckets of water to quell an old west fire, by passing up chips to unknown people manning the front lines to place bets for them. The corridor of open space between the gamblers, which was once passable, shrunk to breathing room only. The entire table and those on the peripheral had then thrown caution to the wind!

“Surer than shittin’!” screamed Carl.

I glanced once again towards Vito’s watch. It was 10:35.

Surer than shittin’ double-fives tumbled out! The atmosphere was beyond electric, atomic!

Again the table’s inventory of chips became depleted. Two-more metal carts pushed by casino security inched their way down the service isle so to reinforce the table.

With the interlude Brad and Johnny’s dates excused themselves, saying they’re going to the powder room. Once out of earshot Brad was bubbling over. “These bitches are fuckin’ warped, man!”

Brad’s remarks oscillated between Johnny and myself, figuring I was somehow hip to the situation.

“Is, Lou, hip, man?”

“Yeah, I filled him in, he might have to pinch hit!”

“Well, listen! I’ve already been up to their room, man! The witches rented a friggin’ suite! They’re wicked! You should hear the way they’re talking already! Dig it, they even brought ludes, the pharmaceutical kind!”

Johnny made an attempt to calm Brad’s enthusiasm. “Look, man, Candy might show . . . it could be at any moment!”


“Don’t give me that wha, shit! She’s my, chic. I mean my, girlfriend!

“While I was out, getting fucked up with you last night, I was supposed to be with her . . . I spaced!

“Anyway, I forgot! Tonight’s her parents’ anniversary and shit! They’re having a big shindig out at the Rams Head, and she’s supposed to coming right here to pick me up at the end of my shift.”

“You’re fucking kidding!” piped in Brad.

“No! I ain’t fucken kidding, Holmes! That’s the message I got when I showed for work. What the fuck ya want me to do about it?”

“Ah, shit, Johnny, why didn’t ya tell me? I could have gotten      Creature to pinch hit!”

“Creature! That motherfucker never gets laid! Fuck him! Take, Lou, here!”

Overhearing the entire conversation, I waved him off with my hand and said, “Hey! Hey! What the fuck you two talking about? Don’t count on me!”

Brad turned, “C’mon, Mr. Zerillo, just play along if, Johnny, can’t make it. We’ll have a great time. These bitches are hot! And if you’re not up to it, just hang out, I’ll take care of the action. I’m one horny motherfucker!”

Johnny cleared is throat as to slow down Brad; apparently Brad was already tanked up on something speedy. Johnny motioned his head for Brad’s attention. Then Johnny batted his eyes, “There’s one problem. Lou’s in love.”

Brad flashed me a fool’s grin, and then he sighed, and sarcastically placed his hand over his heart.

Johnny added fuel, “Your not going to believe it, Brad, this guy here actually dates, Carrie Fisher, ya know the chick. . .”

Realizing what he uttered, Johnny was quick to make amends and prove he had been somewhat enlightened, “Sorry, Lou! I mean, Miss Carrie Fisher, the movie star’s his girlfriend!”

“Cool!” stated Brad, “She got any friends?”

“C’mon Brad, knock it off, we gotta make a plan here!”

He bit his bottom lip and scrambled his brain, “Look, if Candy shows!”

Johnny turned his attention towards me, “C’mon, man . . . ya don’t hafta say shit. Brad and I have the rap, we’ll just fit ya into the picture somehow, we do it all the time, alls I ask is that ya just pal along with Brad and the two bums, only ’til I get out of sight with Candy. Then I don’t give a fuck what ya do? And if for some reason she don’t show, I guess I’m off to fuckarama!”

Johnny pitched further, “I can’t even pretend to know these bitches if Candy arrives. Pity me, there’s no escape, I’m locked in here at the table. Just have a drink with them or something. . . C’mon, so far I’ve been good luck. You’re up plenty, I don’t even give a fuck about the G-note tip you’re about to lay on me.”

Johnny’s summation and inference about a fat propina had him putting on a cute and pleading smile.

“Listen to this, guy! Planning my itinerary—next thing ya know he’ll—”

“C’mon!” hooted Johnny, implying further, we should firm up and divvy out the spoils, right.

The kid had been right on and up front up. I remained well in the black, and perhaps for some-saving grace I no longer perceived myself as a dead man.

And the truth was, the sole force holding me back was my new sense of whatever, and my newly found, growing love for Carrie, which brought along with it a new sense of value. I would have liked to help the young man out as simply as possible, then maybe, somehow, explain it in do-good detail towards Carrie later on.

While doing the balancing act, justifying reasons, a wonderful scent advertised an arrival of someone new, feminine and sweet. I held my breath until she came into view! Rather than making a sweeping motion, instead, I zeroed in on her apparent landing spot, forecasted by a soft breeze and stirring to my right.

Johnny placed a nervous smile on his otherwise seamless face.

*  *    *

“Sorry, about last night. I totally spaced.” Then motioning to acknowledge Brad’s presence. “Brad and I had a couple, you know . . .”

Candy appeared quietly perturbed, wondering what’s Brad doing there. She chose not to act upset and fixated herself in the sense of coy, “Hi, Brad. What’s, up?”

“Ah, not much! Just stopped by to say hi to, Johnny, down with some friends. They’re the gamblers, you know, me.”

I marveled at the soft looking and creamy facial skin. Like most young and striking beautiful women, she could be compared to a dainty colorful flower; stunningly in full bloom . . . that time and space that little girls unknowingly wander into and they just evolve into goddesses, moist and taut, plummed and delectable with gazes that could stop charging armies in their tracks and as mysterious and electricity and what makes the remote control change the channels, ah, they’re so-so beautiful!

Her head sprouted thin-strands of angel-blonde hair, swooped back without a strand out of place to form an exquisite bun, tucked-in and gussied up into a perfect French Twist all fixed, as sturdy as Hoover Dam. The coif was fortified with an Oriental hair braid. Her lips: thin, moist, painted pink and puffed ever so slightly, sensual while forming a heart’s shape. Her initial gestures confirmed an at-ease with herself persona, refreshingly unassuming, especially in regard to the grand scale of her magnificent beauty.

She directed her attention back toward Johnny and as if it was the most important question she ever asked in her entire life! She lipped, “Were you planning to go with me tonight?” As she neared her question’s end, her voice dropped; its essence placed herself in a shyer role.

“Am, I, going? Sure, babe. Wouldn’t miss it for the world.” The reply didn’t flow as easy as it sounded. “I get off in fifteen minutes. Brad just stopped by, he’s showing some his dad’s friends around . . .

“Candy, say hi to Mr. Lou Zerillo! . . He and Brad’s dad were in the Army together. It just so happened that Lou’s been gambling here awhile. Brad’s showing Lou and the misses around.”

Candy relaxed somewhat, perhaps relieved about Johnny and she offered me a sweet smile toward me that included some time.

“Candy Cosler.” She extended a soft-looking hand, “Pleased to make your acquaintance.”

I reached out and clasped onto the warmth, then I cleared my own throat. My initial response was aimed more in Johnny’s direction and I did so for his benefit. I did my earnest, “So, this is her?”

Back toward Candy, “You’re all this guy talks about. He says, you’re number-1 in his book.”

Candy’s pleased-to-meet-you smile faded, then darted fiercely toward Johnny. He shook his head in a “no way” manner. His eyes clarified what actually had been discussed between he and I. Johnny cleared his throat. “Actually, all I said was that we’ve been going out and all.”

Brad came to the rescue and Johnny was quick to say, “These two hooked up without me.”

Candy eked out a weak, “Oh.”

*  *    *

Candy’s arrival had stolen the limelight, especially from the other women. While security guards and casino personnel restored the chip inventory, it took all their concentration to pay attention to their duties rather than to choose to undress Candy with their eyes. Why not? Everyone else’s eyes were planted on her.

Her shiny, pink-satin party dress hugged her so sumptuously and contoured her firm body like a fitted glove. Her small-round breasts were nudged up so by her Maiden form, and the two, tasty-looking mouthfuls came to terms near the upper rims of her breasts. Those breasts had inched themselves close together, forming a yummy sweet-looking canyon of what had to be delectable flesh.

Her small round butt protruded so, and for the sake of wishful thinking, it was tempting for most men to imagine the soft, buttery touch of that delicate derriere and to one hand that yummy roundness while gloriously within the sumptuousness of the act. Then to further fantasize . . . that very tush . . . thrusting itself upwards, toward ya, doing it the same way as when she performed for her Johnny with loving and giving warmth. It was almost too much to think about, but then from a letches point of view, too tempting to let the imaginary vision go, the notion of the oozing wetness and a perve like me would have to take it further and envision himself stabbing and drowning my penis deep-deep inside all that glory!

The healthy side of me held true. I had then shelved my vicarious tango with Candy. She’s, Johnny’s, babe.

*  *    *

Fat Wanda babbled to herself in breathless fashion, acting as if she’s been upstaged. The smooth guy exhaled a long flume of smoke and held his cigarette like, DiNiro, in a gangster movie. He squinted his eyes and nodded his head, perhaps hoping for as much as a look over, that’s if she had chosen to pan the table. She didn’t. Her focus remained squarely on Johnny.

Carl and Phil brashly elbowed each other and they shamelessly oohed and gawked in her direction.

The two, off-duty cocktail waitress, aroused, forced to turn toward her and do some comparing to their aged selves. They glared enviously and flashed disdain. Vito rocked on his heels. He and Candy made eye contact. Vito flashed for Candy a big, fatherly smile.

She sprung further to life and mouthed back a cheery, “Hi, Vito.” Joe Rizzo maintained a scowl and his coveting mind couldn’t bear to conceive the notion of somebody the likes her being with somebody the likes of him . . . Others took their own mental snapshots.

At last, after the interlude pertaining to the recently delivered chips the money had been counted, signed-for, placed, and stacked, it was back to business.

*    *    *

There was a boost, as if my psyche boasted impervious shield, a cautious confidence enveloped my senses. I performed a quick count. I began stacking chips, placing $500 ducats into piles of tens, the same way I neatly stacked them before, back while at the roulette table. I smartly placed four piles in between the stripes of the Pass Line — $20,000. I yanked out of my windbreaker all my chips, ready as hell to cash in them all for green cash when the next roll hit.

Christ, is was easy enough to say. It was something I couldn’t have said or thought about that morning, the day before, or an hour ago. I was on the threshold. All I needed to do was make back-to-back numbers.

It seems as if all my life I’ve known beforehand, if I was going to win or lose!

Possessing that particular right on source of information was an edge, not for me, as is a firm footed stepping stone towards life’s notion, having a fix on the esoteric. It was inside goods that before had delayed me from having my date with destiny. There were plenty of times, despite being aware of the for-sure forthcoming, win or lose, I’ve chosen to ignore the fire-tested methods and just went along anyway, regardless of the repercussions.

Even at that defining moment I hadn’t summed up; if it were a course action if it had been something I had been born with, then mandated for me to perform by silly ole me. And I was then the commander of my own destiny for a fool’s worth of gold, it was I who had romantically donned oneself so to play out some bullshit cavalier role, a role, self induced, fueled, steered, and egged on, by my self-serving ego?

By winning, and staving off death, I was going to change my life!

I began forming composite thoughts, even how to go about celebrating and doing so in a fitting manner. When I crossed the brink, there was sure-to-be, some rush, sky-high, envisioning the Archangel Gabriel playing his horn inside my victorious head. I could almost imagine the irked devil in agony covering his pointed ears! Lucifer, whose name indicates “light,” having his lights go out and flames dampen.

I went so far as to rehearse, as I choreographed my departure inside my head. First, I’d tip Johnny, break the rules, and give him a handshake, then, I’d see if I could have gotten away with a hug from, Candy. Oh, what a devil I’d be.

Rather than spoiling my new-idealistic bliss, I swear, I’d pass on the two-cheating whores; (you can understand, primarily I planned to do so on Carrie’s account) I would have strolled out like a champion, not looking back, head held high, chest expanded, and I’d ease on out of the lair of the devil.

While I was planning it all out on a grand scale, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the two men from earlier, the Hispanic-looking men, who earlier were gambling at the table. Then they were dressed in sweat-suit black, making their way through the heavy crowd came the two husband cheaters.

Johnny panicked!

Brad winced!

Vito cringed!

Rizzo scoffed!

Seeing Johnny’s reaction, Candy jumped and shivered at the sight of the other women whose eyes were fixated on Johnny and Brad.

Fat Wanda, ‘Oh my goodnessed.’

I felt nothing.

*  *    *

Without warning a sudden impact rocked the entire casino! It came storming with an Earth-shattering explosion! The floor rumbled and partially collapsed beneath me as I was violently tossed down by the blast, tumbling me like a rag doll slamming to the carpet! Chips scattered about from inside my pockets.

Having no idea, completely disoriented, things went black!

There was a fierce unbelievable barrage of weapon fire. More explosions followed sickening thuds, like a baby skulls striking against cement.

The crystal chandeliers rattled, glass shattered. Additional materials dropped from the ceiling!

There were screams of panic spooking me in the darkness. Throughout the chaos, heavy automatic gunfire took place simultaneously. I rose up on my hands and knees!

In my view were serious men moving about in the shadows, seemingly unaffected by the craziness. They moved about, right next to me, shouting out to one another in Spanish!

I snapped to my right, toward the cash cage a muffled almost silent, orange flash erupted, followed by a fiery explosion. The heavy door of the cash cage came blowing off. It flew upwards like it was in slow motion until it reached an apex then came a downward descent and it crashed into a chandelier and landed on a roulette table.

Fat Wanda lay still. She had been slammed backwards, but propped up and forced against the base of the gambling table; planted in a seated position. She had a bullet hole smack in the middle of her moon face. A stream of blood dripped down. Her orange wig lay lifeless too on her lap. Beneath her decapitated fall was a crew cut. Her fat legs lay spread. What greeted my already-blown-away eyes was a gnarly pair of male testicles along with a flaccid penis that dangled off of fat Wanda’s crotch!

The havoc continued! I searched the ruin and looked for an escape route. Beyond Fat Wanda, to my left, the smooth guy was a goner. His sharply pressed suit had shrapnel embedded and torn in its back. He laid still, face down.

I had to get out of there. I moved as to feel my way. My leg was being tugged! I turned. It was, Johnny, he, face down, with one arm tugging on me, and with the other wrapped tight around Candy, whose head was buried in his chest. He looked up briefly and signaled for me to stay down.

Next to him lay Brad, stretched out, heels dug into the carpet, flat on his back, deader-than-dead, still though, as if the joke was on him, with that seductive smirk still pasted on his young but dead man’s puss.

The frightening sound of gunfire continued to ring out. The landing rounds that didn’t cut into people and furniture impaled themselves into the flocked-paper walls.

Spine tingling merciful pleads rang out from the wounded, punctuating the awfulness of the situation. The ruthless intruders responded to the moans by yelling out in European accents, “Shut up or there will be more killing!”

An eerie silence took over.

My eyes closed as if to escape. My ears picked up movement of feet and more shouts then in rapid-fire Spanish.

I opened my eyes; emergency lights flicked on. The once-opulent casino had sunk to be a much-different picture than the glitzy showcase it was in full illumination only moment before. The tawdry splendor had been reduced and splattered into a hellhole.

Additional feet ran by me, and I made out shadows of fast-moving figures heading in the direction where the door was blasted away.

Shouted out, I heard a few-quick words of, “Don’t! Don’t!” The pleads were followed by a volley of shots. Someone inside the cage cried out a murmur, like, “ya, got me!”

My attention to the activity focusing on inside the cage was broken about every twenty seconds by a heavy machine-gun raking of the floor, warning all with a keep-your-head-down if-you-know-what’s-good-for-you flurry, another barrage of ordinance shot up the entire casino at three-hundred-and-sixty degrees.

The pile of the once plush carpet became a blood-soaked swampy surface.

Many others lay lifeless like croutons atop some mixed death salad. The wounded begged for help. Others remained hushed and silent, scared out of their wits, cowering about while others curled up in fetal positions. A disarray of casino chips and purses and high-heeled shoes, and spilled drinks, and shattered glass remained scattered. Debris occasionally dropped from the ceiling in the form of pieces of broken plaster.

Smoke and a dreadful aroma drifted.

Those unable to contain their horror echoed their pleas along with the agonizing whimpers of the dying. Nightmarish, morose and horrifying were appropriate adjectives in order to envision the very sight.

Two figures stood over me. I anticipated, hoping so much they would go away. Was I going to be assassinated? One reached down and tugged me by the shoulder, yanking me to my feet!

I noticed, Johnny and Candy, also being roused. As I rose I could see fat Carl’s corpse shot dead with his arms extended straight out, as if he was in the midst of a high dive. The upper half of him was draped over the crap’s table.

One of the off-duty, cocktail waitresses saddled, Carl, slung over his back as if she was a piece of laundry drying on a wash line. Her lifeless arms hung down like a rag doll’s, with her arms coming to rest at the sides of Carl’s legs, which had streams of blood running down them.

Joe Rizzo was pinned up against the pit boss’s podium. He had a hole in a shot out lens of his glasses.

Rizzo looked pissed! Other than the clean wound, he appeared impeccable.

Vito lay wounded, holding his right shoulder and our eyes met as I was being dragged to my feet. His honest eyes advised and warned, ‘try to keep calm!’

I was almost in shock with a non-discriminate barrel of a revolver pressed hard into the nape of my neck. I was fucken-A, scared! My legs began to quiver. I wasn’t sure if could negotiate a step!

Johnny, Candy, Carl’s brother-in-law, Phil and I were herded close together. The two-Hispanic men covered us, breaking their attention away now and then to send another terrorizing volley of bullets outward through the darkness of the casino floor.

A full-five minutes hadn’t gone by. Incredible, in that short span of time, the games ceased, the place was wrecked, and there were people hurt and dead.

Three men emerged from the cash cage. Two of the robbers were pulling small carts by a rope out of the cash cage. The pulled carts were some-sort of two-wheeled, sled-like contraptions.

One of the ski-masked men took charge and motioned for us to move out. I noticed, as he gave orders, that his crotch boasted a lump. I figured, these sons-of-bitches had to be crazy. A fucking hard on in such a midst of fury! I felt sick and it wouldn’t have taken much more to make me shit my pants. Thinking for some reason the idea of “hard on” stemming from me was the last thing I could fathom.

With the gun still jammed into my lower neck I was shoved and rudely ushered away from the table. For a fleeting moment I gander back at my winnings, spread about the floor and broken table, all being non-voluntarily abandoned, and there I was letting go and saying bye-bye to what it had taken me hours to accumulate. Most was still on the table, the rest strewn on the floor.

The sickening feeling went through me, thinking beyond, even if I survived the terror, I’d be back to where I started. I’d never be rejoined with my earned winnings.

The worst-case scenario, I had almost completed my mission. The devil wouldn’t relent.

My thoughts shifted to Carrie, as we were being herded through the casino. Seems as if it was going to be a double loss.

It was tough going. We stumbled over torn-open bodies and smoking debris. Two men tugged on the sleigh and they and the sleds rumbled over the dead and wounded like blitzkrieg tanks.

We neared the casino’s boardwalk entrance. Three men with revolvers made an attempt to block our passage and were mowed down by a wild hail of gunfire. We pressed on, through the lobby, to the outside. The boardwalk was deserted. Blaring alarms and police sirens rang out from every direction.

I was able to make out a policeman across the boards; he was crouched strategically and protected behind a boardwalk trash receptacle. His revolver exposed in the grip of one hand. He appeared befuddled, not sure what to do, seeing that there was a hostage situation.

One of the men sent a burst of gunfire his way. The policeman fell that fast! We moved, all of us stooped-over, a huddled-together pack, across the boards. We quickly descended the boardwalk’s wooden steps and moved down to the beach. The night remained pitch dark with no illumination.

As our feet hit the sand we were nine, four hostages and five thugs.

Phil was crying.

“Violet! . . . Violet!” he whimpered.

Johnny had his arm still tight around Candy, her face remained buried in his chest and she was barefoot.

“It will be alright, baby,” he assured, yet his voice seemed a far cry from being confident. I recognized the sounds and vibrations belonging to the running of flat-footed feet back up on the boardwalk. Megaphones blared, commanding us to stop!

We trudged for about ten seconds while our determined kidnappers ignored the threats. They prodded us more rapidly towards the water’s edge. At first I couldn’t see the powerful-sounding motorboat just off shore, wading about with its transmission’s propeller gear, obviously placed in neutral.

Without hesitating we marched right into the breakwater. The sudden cold of the ocean startled me, but not near as much as the terror in my heart. It was one of those boats referred to as cigarette boat, painted dark blue or black.

The craft carried a visible crew of two, one manning the wheel, the other a mate. They too were dressed in ninja black with wool, ski caps pulled down low.

Two men hopped up and over the side of the boat. The top guy motioned, Johnny, Phil and, I, to lend a hand, to help lift the two money-filled sleds over the side. We did so while under the gun. When we were sending the second sled over the boat’s side it slipped, and the sled heavily hit the deck hard sending off a thud.

We were forced to board.

Once aboard, I took a glance at the metal canister that hit the deck hard, it was partially opened, with me seeing the contraption stuffed with cash. Some of the bills blew around the boat’s deck.

The compression of the boat’s engines picked up. Shortly we we’re zooming across the white-capped tops of the night’s waves, moving out to sea and further into the darkness.

Once away we were roughly guided toward the boat’s stern. The shrinking landmarks from the shore line were checkered with a maze of blinking, red-and-blue lights, spotlights were scanning and searching, aiming their streaming beams out to the open sea. Up to that point, no beam of light crossed our speeding bow.

With the swiftness of the powerboat we were beyond firing range.

Two men went to work. They began transferring the cash out of the canisters and into leather satchels. Two other men held us at bay. It was cold. For some reason the driver of the boat was replaced by the leader. The original driver and the other mate came by us as to relieve the two men who were guarding us. They drew their own weapons, so the two could go and assist the cash stuffers.

A silence maintained itself amongst us.

I gazed at the two. In the darkest of night with the ski masks pulled close down over their entire faces, they stood still like gun drawn statues. One was short and slight, the other my size. I studied their body language!

Something riled them, and I noticed after they fixed their eyes on me, how they darted their masked heads sharply towards each other and did it strangely, as if they went weird! They seemed . . . they seemed perplexed!

Presto! The realization came rushing into my recognizing logic! Yet it wasn’t logical! I reached for my voice, first making sure the tone wouldn’t amplify too much over the humming engines. I uttered out, not sure just what I was about to say!

“Mik! Is that, you?”

No answer.

Then, “Is that you, buddy?”

Just above a whisper and above the boat’s engines came, “Shut the fuck up!”

I couldn’t believe my ears!

Fear subsided, curiosity rose and I chose to speak further and risk my own safety, if anything, to solve one of life’s mysteries.

“Is this why, Mik?” I whispered. “Is this the explanation about why you were so cold?”. . Nothing.

“Hey, Mik, I hate loose ends. The least you could do is give a dying man his last request. I’d say you’ve got me in a tight spot, here!”

The man driving the boat overheard my inquiries and screamed back, “SILENCE!” I was positive of the coincidence and he had no idea about my past association with my buddy and my ex-lover.

Phil blurted! “What’s going on? You know these, killers?”

My buddy stepped forward and slammed the butt of his revolver on top of Phil’s head. Johnny had a wild look in his eyes. Those eyes full of fright and curiosity begged for an explanation as for me to substantiate, if wondering if I were friend or foe?

Candy kept her face buried, not wishing to see or hear anything.

The cash continued to be packed into about a dozen satchels. One of the money packers took over at the wheel, and the leader was peering to the dark sky while talking coded lingo into a walkie-talkie.

He waved an infrared flashlight, blinking stealth towards the darkness. The sound of rotors came closer.

The craft hovered above us, adding to the tension, and kicking up the sea. A rope ladder dropped and it swung over the deck. One of the men grabbed onto the roped ladder. One began to ascend the ladder with satchels strapped around him.

The leader of the group came storming over! He roughly separated Candy from Johnny’s hold. Johnny tried to resist but the man placed his weapon up to Johnny’s head.

He stood there for a moment, sizing us up, and then he ordered, as a matter-of-fact, “Shoot, ’em!”

There was a delay. They stayed frozen.

His voice became emphatic, “I said kill, them!”

More delay!

He rose his own weapon and pointed it directly at me. Simultaneously, my buddy and Mik stepped between the man about to shoot, and in turn they pointed their revolvers in the direction of the leader.

“Drop, it!” said Mik.


“What is this?” shouted the exasperated leader.

“We can’t,” mumbled out, my buddy.

While my buddy covered the guy, Mik stepped forward and pushed Phil hard in the chest; he flipped backwards over the side. Then with her weapon she motioned to Johnny and Candy to go and jump for it. . . . They did so.

My buddy was still holding the leader at bay, and the other men were so busy with the satchels, while negotiating the rope ladder, they hadn’t taken notice to the irregularities.

Mik moved a step further towards me. I could make out those grays through the peepholes belonging to her ski mask. She gave me that kitty-cat look, the same one she used to flash when we sat across from each other in that New Hope restaurant, her patented acknowledgment.

Then she reached down into a one of the satchels and scooped out two fistfuls of cash, shoved them deep inside and beneath the zipper of my wind breaker, and then, both shocking and surprising, with what felt like all her strength came a swift jolt delivered to my chest in the form of a straight arm which pushed me over the edge!

*    *    *

I hit the ocean while on my back. Right then I was terrorized, instantly paralyzed by the shivering cold. Then came rushing into my mindset the idea of drowning!

I began paddling and kicking while still on my back. I heard some shouts and gunfire, but couldn’t make out who-was-who, or what-was-what.

I was out of the boat but not out of trouble, away from the guns but in a hostile environment. The cast of killing robbers, with guns a pair of tear you ass apart propellers belonging to the boat and a hideous noisy helicopter were right behind me. I heard the boat’s engine pick up. The copter began to turn away from above the vessel. As it departed it sent a sweeping spray of bullets across the ocean’s surface. The speedboat sped off while being followed by the fierce sounding helicopter.

At least the gunfire wasn’t in my direction. I turned for the moment and gazed at the black evil bird departing chasing the fleeing boat.

Then the copter broke off and flew north. The speedboat scooted south.

I erased their chase from my mind and gathered my bearings. With things settled down I began to float on my back towards shore. The money Mik shoved into my windbreaker was wrapped in plastic packets. I adjusted them so not to lose any. I figured I was about a mile off shore.

An array of activity came from the shoreline in the form of additional helicopters, along with dozens of search lights frantically    panning the coast line. There had been no moon. The thought ran across my mind that the robbers had counted on such obscurity.

While fighting for my life I wondered how Mik and my buddy could have gotten recruited for such a cavalier endeavor.

I asked myself questions, “Were they once again lovers? Was it some golden opportunity?”

For all the years I knew my buddy, I mean, I knew he had balls, and Mik too, but enough to help pull off a dangerous heist on a casino? I was befuddled.

The utmost importance for me was to survive. I came close to the shoreline and saw I was wading in close to Steel Pier. I hadn’t stopped to consider about the authorities. I figured, I’d play it by ear.

Strangely enough, only a few hours before, I was willing to kill myself because of lack of love and money.

Mik laid on me a stash, and for what reason, it was a mystery that probably would never be explained: Had her act of charity with her saving me been a payoff? Was it that she still loved me? Was she so desperate to place herself in a fix to do something so daring and was it the idea of that upcoming effort which precluded sacrificing my love? What was she wrapped up in? And what about my buddy? Had he left the wife and children and was it because that he too wrapped up in the mess and was that the reason he had not contacted me?

None of those answers mattered; I had to survive. I wanted to live!

In fifteen minutes I was bobbing up and down under the pylons while echelons of waves nudged me closer to the shoreline. My body surfing experience helped me avoid being thrust into the wooden pylons.

Fortunately, the surf wasn’t turbulent.

Once ashore I sensed activity all around me but had yet to see anyone. I did see the reflection of blinking lights about a block into the city. I pulled myself to shore and headed directly for the solitude underneath the boardwalk. The soaking wet and the cold began to debilitate me. I couldn’t stop shaking.

I broke into an abandoned beach shack. I leaned on the door, snapped the lock and stumbled to the floor. Despite the darkness, I could make out some sort of netting. I covered myself with it. I shook and shivered.

My earlier adrenaline rush subsided. After awhile, still wet and still cold, I stirred and searched about and I found a pair of cotton-sweat pants and a lifeguard’s tank top. I changed into them and hung my windbreaker as to let it drip dry. My arms remained wrapped tight around my torso, hoping that my 98.6 might spread across my shivering chicken skin.

The hours passed and a soft light in the east began to make its way to the shore and the beach hut.

I counted the money. I had eight packets of hundred-dollar bills, stacked equal in size. There were 250 bills in the pack. In addition, my shoes had remained stuck to my feet. The cash earlier stuffed inside them was still in tack.

It became time to make my exodus.

I eased on out, on guard, not knowing what to expect up Florida Avenue. At the first intersection, I noticed how there were police cars at every intersection. The city was like an armed camp. TV news vans roamed the streets. People were being interviewed. Not noticed, I walked back a few blocks away from the action and then toward the center of town, towards the Atlantic City, bus terminal.

With damp bills I bought a ticket to Philadelphia. At the terminal I picked up a copy of the Atlantic City Press. Reports of the heist were all over the front page.

Thirty-six, dead 143 injured as much as $45 million missing!

At the time of publication, most was still a mystery. The paper printed sketchy accounts. Eyewitnesses were quoted saying that they hit the casino with lightning-quick accuracy.

The police and a hotel spokesman said it was work of seasoned professionals. The casino’s heavy security already confessed they were thrown off guard by the speed, and method of escape. The newspaper reported that none of the hostages or robbers had been spotted or heard from.

The story, along with accompanying pictures dominated the first-six pages of the paper. On other accounts, the casino and the police were mostly tight lipped.

Once in Philly I took a cab to the airport. I just wanted to get west. Fuck everything. Leave it all behind in New Jersey.

A nonstop for LA was posted on the airport’s monitor to be departing in an hour. Once out west I’d make a further plan.

Off the racks of a sports boutique inside the terminal I bought some tourist garb, a Phillies sweatshirt and matching sweat pants. I plopped a baseball cap on my head.

I purchased a one-way ticket to L.A, first class.

Two stewardesses forced plastic smiles. My upscale ticket mandated they extend those phony grins a bit further. I placed the satchel under the seat. I became somewhat apprehensive while waiting to take off.

Other passengers moved through the plane to the rear. The river of single-filers boarding the 767 dwindled to a trickle.

Ten minutes before I had heard the hatches of the cargo bay close. Service trucks were longer out front, yet the stewardesses remained just out of view while fixed at the front, as if they were waiting for someone.

Maybe they were waiting for the cops?

Outside the window, the guy who normally directs planes, stood passively on the tarmac, hands folded, torchlight at rest against an orange vest.

By the bulkhead the stewardesses remained posted. Their attention focused towards the ramp coming from the terminal’s gate.

Seconds extended to what seemed like minutes. One of the attendants popped to life. “Don’t worry!” she said to whoever, in reassuring-stewardess talk, “We wouldn’t have taken off without you!”

“Oh, thank you! Heavens, what a mess, with the police; it was almost impossible getting to the airport from the seashore. The place is chaotic!”

“Don’t you worry your pretty little head, you have 5-and-a-half hours to relax with us, nonstop, all the way to Los Angeles. We’ve heard about the robbery, that’s all they’re talking about on the radio.”

“I actually had policemen knocking at my great aunt’s door at 4:00 a.m., asking about someone named, Lou Zerillo! Supposedly, he claimed to be my boy friend, and he’s supposed to be one of the hostages! I never heard of any, Lou Zerillo, I don’t know any Louies period.”

“Well, put it all behind you. We’ll pamper you . . . Let’s see, Miss Fisher, you’re in A-2! . . Oh, by the way, I have to tell you, I just loved, Post Cards From The Edge!”

“Oh! Thank you so much! That’s so sweet.” She gently laughed and said, “You really are. Such feedback is what I live for, believe it or not . . . Oh, how wonderful to finally relax.”

“What brought you to the Jersey shore? Do you have roots here?” inquired the other stewardess, as she cleared room in overhead storage compartments.

“You know, I’ve been dealing with my great aunt whose been convalescing down in Ventnor. I mean, I adore the woman, but I’m bushed and I ‘ll appreciate somebody waiting on me for a change of pace.”

*    *    *

Sitting there in disbelief, I remained speechless. A warm and fuzzy feeling came over me. I shelved worries, thoughts of police, suicide, heartbreak. I was ecstatic on the insides. It was truly unbelievable!

My heart raced as the sound of her voice gradually came closer, it leading her right around the partition and onto the aisle way!

I looked away on purpose but specked her out of the corner of my eye. I was in A-1. She would be in A-2, directly next to me! Without giving me so much as a glance, Carrie halted. She opened the overhang. She placed into the compartment her carry on. I admired the athletic shape. She exposed a yummy, taut belly button, as she stretched upward on her toes to squeeze in her luggage.

She was dressed in smart-cotton slacks with a silk top. Her eyes were shaded by stylish sunglasses. A yellow kerchief tented her soft-brown hair.

Finally, she plopped down. I sensed her attention. She had given me a few once overs, while plopping about in her seat to adjust herself. Every time Carrie bounced she snuck another peek.

After five or six seconds she came to life. Very lady like, she extended a smart-straight, feminine hand. She voiced evenly, “Carrie Fisher’s, my name—pleased to meet you. I suppose we’ll hafta get to know each other for the next five-and-a-half hours. So what’s you’re story big boy?”





















When Lou and Carrie deplaned in L.A., more-than-likely they would never care to be in each other’s company for the rest of their lives.

Lou found her a vile; a condescending, pompous snob—worse.

For 5-and-a-half hours she yakked away. Even when she took a few shrinking moments to inquire about the essence of Lou’s life, she remained focused for what-seemed-like passing seconds or a few syllables.

When the poor guy eked out a few words, she’d interrupt, make a face and say, “that’s ain’t, nothing,” or, “I got news for, ya.”

Then she’d be the word bully and take over and she went to drop a never-ending list of famous people, all who she proclaimed to be her best friends, all her fans. Thus came a shelling of, “I, I, Me, Me.” Lou became stunned, disenchanted, and so-so sad. He melted into a melancholy and finally he sickened. It soothed him in a funny sort of way, the thought of being fed up.

When he realized there was no hope he escaped to the restroom. He went and holed himself up for awhile in coach and read the paper. He lost all desire.

He returned for the last half hour. After all, he still was classified as an aspiring writer. Just maybe he could get from her a good contact a hotshot agent, maybe even a publisher? After what he had been through, getting info out of Carrie would be a piece of cake.

*  *    *

Her opinion of him?

When back in California with her mother, an inquisitive woman who always questioned Carrie about people she met on the plane, Carrie said, “He was (ugh) bald, short, with soft-mushy hands.”

Just a little-nothing of a man, unpolished, uncouth, and she moved her hands hysterically about, when she said “this frog face, named, Lou, that beneath the cheap veneer, he was probably just another, beer-swilling pervert. He was an awful sounding man, like some of dad’s greasier friends from back in the old neighborhood.

“Probably, he manipulates his targets with conniving, bleed-your-heart out rubbish. The odd ball spoke relentlessly about a newfound sincerity. You know, mother, those types always harbor ulterior motives. I felt as if he was a womanizer. You know, the kind, just like daddy. What’s really on their minds are repulsivem disgusting actsm with them having a chance at pretzeling us gals into provocative positions! Surely a Liz Taylor kind of man.”

Debbie sat there, her hands folded with a I-gotcha smile on her face.

Well, if we’re talking of any redeeming factors, and it’s purely speculation, rather than yakking away, I wish he would have just shut his mouth and jumped my bones.

“Otherwise, I had to tolerate a boring, blue-collar bastard, who had the blatant audacity to clutch on to the ridiculous, a mental midget’s myth spinning around in his pea brain, that this Neanderthal could actually write.

“Imagine, I endured the harshness of that awful-sounding, honk-your-horn accent for an agonizing 5-and-a-half hours. I’d be surprised if this guy could write a post card. He should have just fucked me. Nobody fucks me. What’s the matter with me, Debbie?”

*    *    *

Once in L.A. Lou checked into the Beverly Hills Hilton. He figured the time of day and that his sweet Jamie would be in Hawaii waiting tables during the rush hour at Maui’s airport Marriott, where she cocktailed.

On the phone he issued his needs towards Western Union and then he did the same with a travel agent back on Maui.

Within the hour, in the midst of her shift, Jamie was hand delivered a telegram, and a ticket on the next flight out of Maui to L.A., plus a cashier’s check for 2K.

The telegram:

I’ve been a fool! I’ll love you forever!

Please come to L.A. immediately!

Please marry me! Whatever you want!

Here, buy stuff right at the airport.                              Tell ‘m at work you’ll be back in 7 days. If that’s OK with you!

Jamie boarded the next plane out.

*  *    *

Candy and Johnny made it to shore. They were questioned and revealed the little they knew about the fellow named, Lou Zerillo. The last time they remembered seeing him was when they went overboard. They kept mum about Lou recognizing two of the crew.

Johnny’s now a pit boss. Within a year he and Candy were married. They’re expecting and seem very happy.

*  *    *

Vito DeMarco, because of his injuries, received a good-sized settlement from the Casino’s insurance company. He retired and raises pigeons. Louise makes him sumptuous lunches.

Phil was never heard from again. Gloria and Violet received checks from the Teamsters Union, double indemnity. There also was a hefty settlement from the casino. By the end of the next summer, both had lost much of the weight and often they strolled the boards—hit on and pick up solo men.

*  *    *

Mik and my buddy, live happily together, in Florida.

*    *    *

Watch out! The monster, Louis Virgo, is on the loose.



Writings, commentaries, scripts from Journalist, Essayist, Novelist, Screenwriter, Playwriter Lou Christine, Philadelphia & Hawaii, Brah, and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico!