MODERN WISDOM NUMBER 203 SEPTEMBER 2015

MODERN WISDOM: AMERICA’S ONLY HUMOR MAGAZINE
NUMBER 203
SEPTEMBER 2015
Copyright 2015 Francis DiMenno
dimenno@gmail.com
http://www.dimenno.wordpress.com

  1. MODERN WISDOM PRESENTS: THE MODERN WISDOM DYSLEXICON

EVOLUTION, THEORY OF. Not yet proven.

EXISTENTIALIST. My girlfriend was an existentialist so I gave her a disengagement ring.

EXPRESS COMPANIES. Always come knocking at the door between nine and five when most solvent individuals just happen to be at work and if they’re not at work they’re probably poor so who would be sending them packages anyway?

FAULKNER. Further proof that no one can bullshit you better than a Southerner.

FEUDALISM: Persistent popular social system modified for 21st century
use with power relations replacing social ones, hence the speculative
nobles, the consumer serfs, the professional priesthood. 

FOOD NETWORK: Forklore.

FREE WILL: Neither will nor free.

FACTORY. The factory is a shrine and chances are the man who runs it is a Shriner.

FATALISM. I tried to deny my fatalism but I knew they wouldn’t believe me.

FORTHRIGHTNESS. I never say what I don’t mean, except this one time.

GALILEO. A lot of gall, but not much Leo.

  1. NOIR MISFORTUNE COOKIES
  2. Only you will think your pathetic excuses are amusing.
    302. Your long-abandoned son has vowed to destroy you.
    303. The Circus Dog scratched you; the infection will be fatal.
    304. The male jury will never convict your attractive murderess.
    305. Mister, even God is tired of you.
    306. Wal-Mart AND McDonald’s will refuse to hire you.
    307. Your final words will be uttered through broken teeth.
    308. Cheap bourbon and disappointment will be your steady diet.
    309. Your tormentor is a registered nurse, skilled in inflicting pain.
    310. A giggling psycho will throw your mother out a window.
    311. They all recognize you by your thousand-yard stare.
    312. Your backgammon technique marks you as a former jailbird.
    313. All’s not right with the world while you’re in it.
    314. Your employees are plotting to have you arrested and fired.
    315. Your unmarked grave will be routinely vandalized.
    316. If they gave Value Stamps with rotgut, you could open a warehouse.
    317. Broken race-track touts are not entitled to collect unemployment.
    318. The crooked sawbones who writes your scripts has been arrested.
    319. Every light you see will be a setting sun.
    320. Your bogus madhouse act is now becoming all too real.
    321. A liquor store clerk will pocket your winning lottery ticket.
    322. Pray that you never discover the whole truth.
    323. Your enemies will be the smartest people you ever know.
    324. Give up. Fifteen Rounds with Kid Destiny and you’re through.
    325. The whiskey was your only friend but now it’s gone.
    326. They know you as one who can be trifled with.
    327. No matter where you step the ground is shifting.
    328. You will continue to torture yourself–it was your fault.
    329. Born in the Gutter, you’ve never lost your taste for it.
    330. You’ve devised 101 ways to escape–all will fail.
    331. Your distant past is a wound that will never heal.
    332. That hostile barroom brawler is nicknamed Karate Motherfucker.
    333. The Police Captain you shot was a short-timer.
    334. The Yardbirds shun you–even they deplore your crime.
    335. The investigator knows you are an incurable Firebug.
    336. Because you refused to bend, you will be broken.
    337. Treason is the mildest name for your transgressions.
    338. Your identity has been stolen by a corrupt Nigerian.
    339. You are falsely listed as ringleader of the Subversives.
    340. You are marked for liquidation by a vengeful spymaster.
    341. Your most mundane activities are being closely scrutinized.
    342. You have mistakenly offended the Man With the Twisted Face.
    343. The Police are very interested in your friendship with “Boris”.
    344. They know you caused the Election Day race riot.
    345. They will not even allow you to commit suicide.
    346. Racketeers resent your friendship with the new Mayor.
    347. You will be sorry until the day you die.
    348. Newspaper accounts of bizarre murders hint at your complicity.
    349. Your boat will be manned by a skeleton crew–literally.
    350. You will be arrested for selling cats as rabbit meat.
    351. Surely your current infamy will linger indefinitely.
    352. A washed-up comedian will dispense wisecracks at your funeral.
    353. You are too weak to work but too sturdy to beg.
    354. Burglars will murder your teacup Chihuahua.
    355. You cannot sweep it under the rug–don’t even try.
    356. You will sell your kidney to pay an angry loan shark.
    357. Be a man–kill yourself now, before they find you.
    358. In your case, the Final Judgment is long overdue.
    359. You are even a failure at suicide.
    360. Your enemy will steal your mother’s corpse.
    361. The Big Man’s dead certain you’re giving him the runaround.
    362. Nobody cares or understands.
    363. You were, are, and always will be Doomed.
    364. Your dead soul squats in a condemned tenement.
    365. Honestly? You will never escape your predicament alive.
    366. You are in a race against time which you will lose.
    367. Your childhood nickname was “Little Mo”.
    368. You have a well-earned reputation for selfish treachery.
    369. Nobody wants you around because you are a needy pest.
    370. The drunken quack will botch your plastic surgery.
    371. You are certainly a man they love to hate.
    372. The cabdriver remembers the address of your hideout.
    373. Opportunity will knock–Deadly Opportunity.
    374. Nature culls the Stupes, so you’re shit out of luck.
    375. You didn’t want to snitch but you had no choice.
    376. They are watching for your face at all the Borders.
    377. That small town Sheriff is anything but dumb.
    378. Your Last Meal: Hobo Tomato Soup and despair.
    379. In Prison you will give birth to a Yenshee Baby.
    380. Your prison sentence will set a harsh new precedent.
    381. Your best friend will engineer your downfall.
    382. No one is willing to take a chance on you.
    383. Strange doings at the Old Mill are linked to you.
    384. You don’t look nice even when you’re all cleaned up.
    385. They have stolen your identity and you are helpless.
    386. Innocent? Perhaps. But guilty of many other things.
    387. You are and always will remain a two-bit punk.
    388. You hated your mother–no, but you loved her, too.
    389. Murder Two? No dice. They know you are a Psycho.
    390. You really stepped in dogshit this time, Pally.
    391. Rivers of whiskey will never wash away your awful guilt.
    392. The first impression you give off? Professional Crumb-Bum.
    393. You’re so low-down you’d even cheat a starving Hobo.
    394. The cops know all about your attic hideaway.
    395. Stowaway on a Tramp Steamer? Punishment: Forty Lashes.
    396. In the Jingle-Jangle Morning they’ll come slaughter you.
    397. The Road to Hell is full of scum like you.
    398. You were rich before you went nuts and started drinking.
    399. The Sheriff knows the alky you sell is pure poison.
    400. You blinded your best friend swinging a lit firecracker.
  1. DONALD TRUMP, WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS CLOWN
    He is the avatar of inanity. In his utter cluelessness he can almost
    be regarded as the world’s most lovable goof. However, the clown hair
    is clearly Trump’s gimmick and detracts from the rest of his head. Let
    us but focus upon the less-scrutinized aspects of his physiognomy,
    and…the horror begins. His vulpine eyebrows. His penile nose. His
    radar-dish ears. And most of all…those cold, dead-looking… eyes. I
    fear those eyes! HIS eyes! I can see…forever! They are the cold
    deep-water blue pools of the stygian depths of that bourne whence no
    traveler ever returns. You can almost see within them the writhings of
    sinners in the hands of an angry God, the wailing and gnashing of
    teeth, and the unkind luster of the preying mantis as she devours her
    incognizant mate.
  1. THE ANTI-IMMIGRANT MOVEMENT

    People have some pretty queer notions. Folks who want to spread tolerance are called ‘PC Police,’ while xenophobic, ethnocentric jarheads still call themselves ‘Patriots’ and hand themselves a pat on the back. When are we going to restore civil discourse to our political discussions?

    For instance, I would like to draw the reader’s attention to the following masterpiece of logic and reason that once made the rounds of the internet:

    IMMIGRANTS, NOT AMERICANS, MUST ADAPT.
    I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Americans. However, the dust from the attacks had barely settled when the “politically correct” crowd began complaining about the possibility that our patriotism was offending others.

    I am not against immigration, nor do I hold a grudge against anyone who is seeking a better life by coming to America. Our population is almost entirely made up of descendants of immigrants. However, there are a few things that those who have recently come to our country, and apparently some born here, need to understand. This idea of America being a multicultural community has served only to dilute our sovereignty and our national identity. As Americans we have our own culture, our own society, our own language and our own lifestyle. This culture has been developed over centuries of struggles, trials, and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom.

    We speak ENGLISH, not Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society, learn the language!

    “In God We Trust” is our national motto. This is not some Christian, right wing, political slogan. We adopted this motto because Christian men and women on Christian principles founded this nation and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home because God is part of our culture. If Stars and Stripes offend you, or you don’t like Uncle Sam, then you should seriously consider a move to another part of this planet. We are happy with our culture and have no desire to change, and we really don’t care how you did things where you came from.

    This is OUR COUNTRY, our land, and our lifestyle. Our First Amendment gives every citizen the right to express his opinion and we will allow you every opportunity to do so! But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about our flag, our pledge, our national motto, or our way of life, I highly encourage you to take advantage of one other Great American Freedom:

    THE RIGHT TO LEAVE.

    It is Time for America to Speak up! If you agree — pass this along; if you don’t agree — delete it – You are in the WRONG Country! AMEN! I figure if we all keep passing this to our friends (and enemies) it will also, sooner or later get back to the complainers, lets all try, please!

    PLEASE NOTE: As brilliant as is that impassioned plea to destroy all useless eaters, it was even better in 1938, in the original German:

    JEWS, AND OTHER SUB-MEN, NOT ARYANS, MUST ADAPT.

    I GROW WEARY of this Reich worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since Germany was stabbed in the back by Jews during the Great War, we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Germans. However, the blood money from the reparations had barely been paid when the “enemies of our Reich” crowd began complaining about the possibility that our slogan “Deutchland Uber Alles” was offending others.

    I am not against allowing sub-men to perform our manual labor; nor do I hold a grudge against any Jew or Gypsy or Homosexual who is now productively doing the needed labor of the Reich in a reeducation camp. Our population is almost entirely made up of descendants of Nordic tribes. However, there are a few things that those who have recently come to our Reich, and apparently some born here, need to understand. This idea of Germany being a multicultural community has served only to dilute our sovereignty and our national identity. As Germans we have our own culture, our own society, our own language and our own lifestyle. This culture has been developed over centuries of struggles, trials, and victories by millions of men and women who have sought One Greater Reich.

    We speak GERMAN, not Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society, learn the language! And the Nazi salute! And do not criticize the Fuhrer!

    “Deutchland Uber Alles” is our national motto. This is not some Pagan slogan. We adopted this motto because Nationalistic men and women on Nordic principles founded this nation and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display the swastika on the walls of our schools. If Aryans offend you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home because Wotan is part of our culture. If Swastikas offend you, or you don’t like Frederick the Great, then you should seriously consider a move to another part of this planet. We are happy with our culture and have no desire to change, and we really don’t care how you did things where you came from.

    This is OUR COUNTRY, our land, and our lifestyle. Our glorious Fuhrer gives every citizen the right to express the Fuhrer’s opinion and we will allow you every opportunity to do so! But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about our Reich, our salute, our national motto, or our way of life, I highly encourage you to take advantage of one other Great German Freedom:

    THE RIGHT TO LEAVE. IN A SEALED BOXCAR.

    It is Time for GERMANY to Speak up! If you agree — pass this along; if you don’t agree — delete it – You are in the WRONG Country! AMEN! I figure if we all keep passing this to our friends (and enemies) it will also, sooner or later get back to the complainers, let’s all try, please!

    And as for the Pope? Pah! As Stalin said–“How many divisions does he have?”

    PLEASE NOTE: I apologize in advance if I offended anybody. I am not seeking to establish a moral equivalence between the Nazi regime and ours. I am merely exaggerating for satiric effect.

    However, the current anti-immigration crowd DOES seem to have a visceral abhorrence to people who do not or can not or, in some cases, will not even bother to try to speak English. I understand that. It annoys me to hear people in a Doctor’s waiting room jabbering loudly in Portuguese or Urdu, as happened to me only three days ago. But it also had something to do with the rudeness of the people; not my inability to eavesdrop on their conversation. (To my mind, the woman who loudly spoke in English about how she believed “Space aliens dropped Adam and Eve here to start the white race” was even more offensive.)

    The English Only clan profess to be annoyed by people who do not have a working knowledge of English. So am I. But it’s one thing to be annoyed and quite another to spew the same old tired Nativist line about how they should all go back to where they came from. I know enough history to know that Nativism is a not-so-distant early warning sign of fascism. I have a visceral hatred of fascism.

    A philosopher, Santayana, once said that those who do not know history are condemned to repeat it. Years later, some other fellow said, “Those who do remember history are also condemned to repeat it!”

    Anyhow, in regards to the internet article, it never ceases to amaze me how willingly stupid fucking know-nothing assholes are so eager to participate in their own degradation. Not only has this chump wallowed in and swallowed whole every bit of nativist propaganda that he’s been force-fed his entire life, he’s actually engaging in new contortions to enable himself to choke even more of it down. My point: More education–AND A LITTLE SENSITIVITY, NOT A WHOLE LOT–is the key. Learning a foreign language when one is an adult is not particularly easy for many. For instance: I spent six months trying to learn Chinese. I found it to be almost impossibly difficult. My point is this: Folks who make a minimal effort to try to learn about other cultures tend not to be quite so dogmatic in their insistence that everyone who comes to this country must IMMEDIATELY either conform or die. It’s usually the slack-jawed yokels and corn-pone fatties from the big stick country who are so obese they have to scrub their backs with a sponge on a twig who tend to be the most hidebound loudmouths regarding this matter. (Sorry–prejudice against Appalachian Americans is also a form of race–and class–hatred. But my granmaw was a coal miner’s daughter, so I get a pass.)

    Learning something about our nation’s history might also help. Maybe there’s a good reason for Hispanics being disinclined to learn English. After all, we did steal big chunks of California and Texas from Mexico, didn’t we? And the Hispanics are reproducing faster than anybody else, aren’t they? And by most estimates, by 2050, whites will be a minority, won’t they?

    I’m just playing the devil’s advocate here. Sure, it would be great if everybody learned English. But here’s another point: many people who were born speaking the language don’t speak it any too well, and functional literacy, from everything I’ve seen, is at an all time low. H.L. Mencken had some choice things to say about this, back in the 1920s:

    “Here the business of getting a living … is enormously easier than it is in any other Christian land—so easy, in fact, that an educated and forehanded man who fails at it must actually make deliberate efforts to that end. Here the general average of intelligence, of knowledge, of competence, of integrity, of self-respect, of honor is so low that any man who knows his trade, does not fear ghosts, has read fifty good books, and practices the common decencies stands out as brilliantly as a wart on a bald head, and is thrown willy-nilly into a meager and exclusive aristocracy . And here, more than anywhere else I know of or have heard of, the daily panorama of human existence, of private and communal folly—the unending procession of governmental extortions and chicaneries, of commercial brigandages and throat-slittings, of theological buffooneries, of aesthetic ribaldries, of legal swindles and harlotries, of miscellaneous rogueries, villainies, imbecilities, grotesqueries and extravagances—is so inordinately gross and preposterous, so perfectly brought up to the highest conceivable amperage , so steadily enriched with an almost fabulous daring and originality, that only the man who was born with a petrified diaphragm can fail to laugh himself to sleep every night, and to awake every morning with all the eager, unflagging expectation of a Sunday-school superintendent touring the Paris peep-shows.”

    What I find incredible though, is that people dignify the childish argument “MY grandparents had to learn English–nobody did them any favors–when are those brown people going to shape up?” and try to treat it as though it were a rational, philosophically sound and irrefutable argument regarding the way things are today. It is not. It is an argument based on fear, resentment, and insecurity.

    My question is this: Why aren’t these same people complaining about the fact that the wealthy are being handed–that’s right, I said they’re being HANDED–enormous tax breaks purchased by means of an intrinsically corrupt campaign finance system? Why aren’t they politically savvy or even literate enough to notice that nearly half our taxes go to fund the military, which leaves little money to pay for education and public health initiatives?

    Moral: We get the culture, and the leaders, we deserve.

  1. WHAT DO YOU THINK…CAN YOU TRUST A BLIND DATE?

    Apparently not, if the cover to HI-SCHOOL ROMANCE #36 is any indication:
    http://www.comics.org/issue/238993/cover/4/

    Ostensibly, the blind date in question is the fellow who is playing
    tonsil hockey with the blonde camp-follower while in the
    foreground.the dark Bettie Page simulacrum goes all lachymose in
    silent and dignified disappointment. However. this is, after all, a
    LOVE comic, so there’s no spicy dialogue such as “I’ll tear your
    bleached blonde hair out by the roots, you hussy!”

    But wait! There’s far more to this ingenious bit of propaganda from
    February of 1949 than initially meets the eye!

    First of all, what kind of athlete wears a knee pad to a basketball game?

    Notice too, how kneepad boy’s ball sack fits snugly in the cleft of
    his grinning blonde teammate’s shoulder. (Is it me, or does the blonde
    guy look more than slightly drunk?)

    Bighead Littlehand, the guy who is grabbing at Mr. Kneepad’s thigh,
    seems a bit long in the tooth to be affiliated with a HS basketball
    team, unless he’s the coach, which, really, makes it even worse.

    Mr. Kneepad (thought balloon): “After the feat–a little treat! Heh
    heh heh heh HEH!”

    Notice, too, how Johnny Flashbulb is getting all set to take a
    front-page keister shot. He knows what the public wants!

    And that charismatic man swingin’ the brown fedora beneath the crook
    of Joe Kneepad’s elbow looks like he’s auditioning for a title of his
    own.

    You know what I think? I think Bettie Page’s teardrop is a tattoo.
    She’s sad because the thigh-grabbin’ coach prohibits his boys from
    consorting with Gang Molls.

    Finally, what I want to know is, where is this “Elf Town” the Jocks
    have beaten by such a resounding margin of exactly one lousy point?

  1. UNIVERSITY OF ENDLESS NIGHT: DEPARTMENT OF NOIR STUDIES

    Course Catalog for September 1948
    Undergraduate
    Criminal Justice 111: No Stinking Badge: The Frontier Ethic in
    Mexican-American Law Enforcement
    Hotel Management 202 (Ithaca campus only): The Reimagined Hospitality
    Industry in the Age of Johnny Rocco
    [A tip o’ the chapeau to Bob Risko….]

    Course Catalog for September 1949
    Undergraduate
    Biology 201: A Good Man (and a Not So Good Woman)
    Sociology 503: A Man Who Likes a Drink or Two (or Several)

    Course Catalog for September 1949
    Graduate
    Oceanography 1500: An Insecure Anchor (In a World Gone Mad)
    Urban Planning 2000: Gambling Dens, Juke Joints and Waterfront Warehouses

    Course Catalog for January 1950
    Undergraduate
    Legal Studies 500: Wrongly Accused (and Determined to Get to the Bottom of It)
    Religion 101: The Cross (and the Double Cross)

    Course Catalog for January 1950
    Graduate
    History 2222: The Geography of Dead End Streets
    Psychology 1330: Case Study: Tommy Udo: He-Man…or Lavender Lad?

  1. THE TIRED MAN

One of the papers headlined it, rather poetically, A MIDSUMMER DAY’S MADNESS.

According to them, it went down roughly like this.

“I’m tired,” the tall, cadaverous white man said as he entered the

still-hissing subway train at the Haven stop. He was

heavily bundled in a long black hooded overcoat even though

it was the dead of summer and 92 in the shade and even

the normally cool tunnel of the subway station was

weeping moisture from its cobbled brick walls. “I’m tired,”

he said, according to witnesses at the scene, then

took out a machete and began menacing a sweaty teenaged girl in a pink sweatsuit.

“I’m TIRED!” he said, as he backed her into a corner of the subway tunnel.

Just then a light flared, and a young, shavetailed

and very no-nonsense Transit Cop named Jim Crocell jumped out of the token booth,

and just as quickly The Tired Man, still holding on to his machete, 

took a flying jump across the tracks to the platform on the opposite side, then

jumped off the platform and onto the tracks. The Transit Cop,

a chunky guy who ran with jackhammer steps, gave chase, but The Tired

Man ran into a tunnel where his black coat blended in

with the unlit interior. The Transit Cop

decided not to follow in after him. He was alone and had

dropped his flashlight and there were too many

unpredictable variables in following an armed suspect

into a dark tunnel. So he went back to the platform, took the girl’s name,

interviewed witnesses, made notes for when he’d write up his report and

wondered if The Tired Man was the same freak who had

been terrorizing passengers at the Townville station.

He supposed he would check it out when he got back to

Central.

 

About a quarter mile into the tunnel The

Tired Man climbed up a rusty ladder, its metal

prongs like staples impressed in the cobbled wall.

He emerged from a manhole on Skid Road and shambled to

his boarding-house room above a disreputable nightclub

where, every weekend evening, young people gathered to listen

to amateurish four-piece pop ensembles and under-aged

three-piece heavy metal devotees as they made their Visigothic

assaults upon the Western Music Tradition. He squeezed in his wax

earplugs so he could nap before the night shift. It was 4PM. 

 

The Transit Cop got back to the station at about 4:15PM.

At 5PM, in an interrogation room with a single light and a single

wooden chair, he proceeded to beat the tar out of a

fourteen-year-old black kid named Tyrell who had gotten drunk,

stolen a Cadillac, driven it across the street, and

wrecked a police cruiser. Miraculously, the boy had been unhurt. When they

tested him on the breathalizer he blew .39. Needless

to say, he was practically incoherent. As the Transit

Cop beat him with a nightstick rolled up in a

newspaper, he was careful to avoid the head, for he

well knew the risks of brain damage associated with

drunken concussions. As he placed a well-aimed kick at

the black beanpole’s skinny ribs, he worried about The

Tired Man. It was rare for this type of subway felon

to be white. He was more likely to be a loner, not the

kind of person who would drunkenly brag of his

exploits to his friends. How do you catch a man who

has no friends who are willing to rat him out? He

hauled the black kid up and made him sit down in the

chair because he believed he had made his point. “Stay

there,” he bellowed, and left the room to call for an

ambulance to take the kid to the hospital for x-rays.

He worried because he still didn’t have idea one of

how to find The Tired Man. It was a major black eye,

the press would likely be all over it, and the Old Chief—

an irascible Irishman–would not be happy.

 

The Bartender took off his heavy coat, undressed,

showered, put on a jacket, a freshly-starched white

shirt and tie, and a neatly-pressed pair of black

dress pants; pilled on his thin grey socks and slid on

his black-tasselled loafers, then proceeded to the front

door of the popular nightclub Depot Provera.

He took out his ring of keys, and unlocked the back door.

He turned on the exterior lights, even though it was only about 6:30PM.

He turned on the interior lights, took the chairs down from the tables,

looked at his watch—it was 6:45PM–then took his place at his station behind the bar.

 

The Transit Cop decided to play a hunch. The Old Cap’n wanted

The Tired Man jugged and all was fair in love and war, so at about

11PM that same night he went to the Townsville hospital and visited Tyrell.

The kid, needless to say, was startled when he awoke from a dreamless drunken

sleep to see looming three feet above his head the face of the Paddy 

who had sucker-punched him that afternoon. “What you want?”

said Tyrell, and looked ready to cry. “I ain’t said nothin’!”

“I know, Tyrell,” said the Transit Cop. “I’ve been asking around.

About you. You’re a smart kid. No arrests.” He paused for

effect. “But smart kids can sometimes do dumb things.”

He paused again. “Smashing up a cop car on a DWI can

get you a long haul in Juvie, but I can make it all go away,”

he said in a sing-song, “if you do me just. One. Little. Favor.”

The kid looked at him with bleary dislike.

The Transit Cop proceeded to describe The Tired Man. “Ask

around. Ask your Crew. If you find out who this guy is

you can walk outta here in a week and go straight home.”

The kid tried to spit on the floor but missed and instead

stained his bed sheet with pink spittle. “Why should I help you?”

Tyrell said. It was a bluff. The Transit Cop played him. “I know

you got a Crew meets at the Mall and plans subway shakedowns,”

he said. “I got nothin’ to say about that. But you gonna let some

white guy come in and mess with your turf?” “Hell, no!” said the kid.

“Das right, makes us all look bad,” the Cop half-muttered. “Find out

who this mutt is and you get a get-out-of-jail-free card.” “A whozit?”

said Tyrell. “A pass. I’ll see you walk on the DWI. I ain’t had

time to write it up yet,” he lied. “I been too busy chasing

some crazy-ass machete motherfucker.” The kid smiled,

dry-mouthed. “Lemme see what I can do,” he mumbled.

“You do that,” said the Cop. “Today.” He gave the kid his card.  

 

But Tyrell never called him. Days passed. Meanwhile,

the Transit Cop had applied for a transfer to the Vice Squad

and by the end of summer he was on the street mostly 

shaking down low-level drug dealers

for poker money which he invariably ended up losing, night

after night, to the Old Cap’n. During these sessions

the Old Cap’n complained incessantly about his Italian-Irish nephew 

Sylvester “Sly” Decarbia, a drunk who had gotten entangled with a 

crack-addicted Dominican prostitute who’d claimed she was carrying 

his baby. “The man is always the last to find out,”

said the gruff Old Cap’n, and the former Transit Cop, who owed his

promotion to Captain Purson,  tersely replied “Tell me about it,” and

tried to remain deadpan as he surveyed yet another garbage hand.

The game was Pot-Limit Omaha and, if he didn’t know better, he’d

swear the Old Chief was dealing with a marked deck. He tried to ignore

Bill Haagenti, a blonde German lummox  with a bowl haircut, and Leslie 

Halphas, a weasel-thin and mean-looking featherweight,  two other 

Transit Cops who were in on the game, and wondered if he should 

ignore the conventional wisdom and

try just this once to draw to a flush.

 

“Ever find that skel?” said beefy Haagenti.

 

“Which one?” said skinny Halphas.

 

“Our old friend The Tired Man” said Haagenti, casting a

meaningful look at Jim Crocell, the ex-Transit Cop.

 

Christ, he muttered— since joining Vice he hadn’t thought

twice about the Tired Man. It wasn’t his beef. Ancient history.

He’d hoped the guy had either moved on had or been murdered

by one of his would-be victims.

 

Crocell tried to focus on his hand but by now it was a losing battle.

He was just about tapped out. He needed lots of money, and fast.

Tomorrow night, he decided,

he would pay a friendly visit to the owners of the

new nightclub down on the Skid Road. He’d gotten

vague reports of the bouncers making drug deals and

figured that might be good for a fat shakedown of five large.

That would just about cover his car payment, he thought brightly,

and longed for the day when he’d ditch the Buick and Taco Bell

and move up to a Rolls and chateaubriand. What was that joke?

“If you’re hung like a horse you don’t need a Rolls to pick up chicks.”

He chuckled through puffy lips. His poker buddies had heard him laugh

so rarely that they took this for a tell and folded their hands and just

this once he actually ended up winning the pot. Well, maybe the

nightclub business could wait, he thought.

 

By mid-October, Tyrell had had no luck with the members of his crew. Not one of

them knew or had ever heard of The Tired Man. A week later

he got sent upstate to a Juvenile Detention Facility.

 

The bored Bartender listened to one of his regulars gassing.

It was Halloween. The frog-faced drunken white kid with the black hair and

the weird look of a greasy Mick complained for the

umpteenth time and with all his might about his Dominican

girlfriend and how she disrespected him. The Bartender rolled

his eyes. The kid stopped sniveling and glared. “At least you

can PRETEND to listen, maan,” he said, slurring.

 

“I’m sorry,” said the Bartender. “I’m not myself.”

 

And Bill Lerie thought about someday maybe going back to fetch the

gleaming machete he had lost that hot summer day in the subway

tunnel. And he smiled.

 

“Wass so funny?” said the kid, still annoyed, and using

the querulous tone of voice popular with lovesick drunks.

 

“Freshen her up?” he said to the kid.

 

The kid dry-snorted. “Y’ got any gak?’

 

The Bartender thought a moment, then replied.

 

“No.”

 

He made a serious frown.

 

“NO.”

 

The kid backed away so fast he knocked over 

what was left of his Jameson’s. He threw a 

crumpled wad of bills onto the bar and backed 

out of the door of Depot Provera.

 

“I’m tired,” the Bartender thought. “I’m tired.”

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