Monday, August 6, 2012

Back In The Day

Back in the day, The First Lady, looped on designer drugs developed at an U.S. Army Lab in Utah, toured the country disguised as a Stepford Wife, robotically urging school children to “Just Say No.” Back in the same day, executive secretaries (not "administrative assistants") with big hair tapped on IBM Selectrics and offered you only two types of coffee: Regular and Sanka.

One Saturday afternoon I received a call from a postal worker friend of mine, Vincenzo. He was someone I often found him to be torn between serious literary intellection and the oblivion provided by psychotropic substances. Not a unique personal pattern, if one reads about the short-lived Romantic Era. So I was on guard for the most ridiculous of proposals.
"You have to come over here" he cackled, like a Dostoevskian madman. I asked why, but he was refused to answer my question, only cackling more until he sounded like pack of Camels. "You have to come over here!" I thought about it for a moment, and agreed. I only lived a mile away, and was a writer myself (that's code for "looking for new lurid material"). So off I went.

When I arrived at Vincenzo's apartment, he led me with great haste to his study. There, on a small wooden coffee table, was a baseball of Lebanese blond hashish. He picked it up with a juvenile fascination: "Vic just left...and look what we brought me !" More cackling. Then Vincenzo went into the kitchen to fetch us two bottles of his favorite beer: Mickey's Big Mouth Malt Liquor.
Reader, there comes a time when, for reasons of propriety, I can only describe the next two hours of my interview with Vincenzo in the most opaque of terms. Indeed, the ambiance grew opaque, and it fused itself to my consciousness, and I realized that many Godheads were present, past and future.

Vincenzo's friend Vic(torino) was a businessman who lived large, residing in the luxurious Watergate towers in Emeryville with a young blond rent-a-girl. Every time that Vincenzo received mail from Wilmington, Delaware, he would fill out the form, and the card would arrive in the mail a month later. For only a 29.9 % APR, compounded monthly, he could withdraw hundreds in cash advances at once. Then, a quick call to Victorino's firm would merit a visit from the man himself.
Victorino grew up in Florida, and served in the U.S. Army, guarding the Berlin Wall against a Warsaw Pact Invasion. "I was stoned drunk everyday on that wall, but they never came." It wasn't clear how he had progressed from a mere soldier to an international businessman, but somehow there was a connection. Every time I saw Victorino, he was wearing his army jacket, and his right hand always seemed to be near his pocket, as if an important tool was there.

A few years passed, and Vincenzo was struggling with his debts. He had downsized from a nice apartment in a Victorian-era building to a converted tool shed in some one's back yard. It was there, on a Thanksgiving afternoon, that I last saw Victorino. The rent-a-girl was gone. He was still wearing his army jacket. His right hand was holding his right side. He groaned "My liver's crampin' up again." His left hand grasped a Mickey's Big Mouth.

I've since lost track of them both. I don't think they did very well in life. It's the ones in Wilmington, Delaware who did.

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