Thursday, May 22, 2008


I be tagged. Ouch! You didn't have to tag me so damned hard JenBun! The whimsical, hilarious, energetic--seriously, I picture her as a colorful tornado--JenBun has tagged me to do a meme.

I haven't been blogging much lately, and it's been pissing me off. I reckon I just haven't had a whole hell of a lot of things about which to write, lately. Either that, or the words are plumb tapped out. Naw. They'll come back. Maybe this meme will act as a catalyst to reopening that third eye of mine (in my head, you durthy-minded readers, in my head). =o)

[By the way, all these lists are put down on the screen in no particular order.]

[That's the problema, Batman, I just haven't felt a lot of passion for anything, lately. But I'll do my best.]

1. Sports. Be it watching them or playing them, I have always held a special place in my heart for sports, particularly those that include a ball (or a puck) and a goal and are played as a team. Basketball, baseball, softball, football, get the idea. (One sport for which I have absolutely no passion is car racing. Seriously. I could not care less about who won the left-turn contest.)

2. Pleasures of the body. Alone or with m'baby, there isn't a whole hell of a lot better than the emotional, psychological, physiological and spiritual release of...well, you know. Now, if that means that I continuously (and wantonly) "break" one of the Seven Deadly Sins, so be it. God gave us working parts and erogenous zones for a reason, kids.

3. Photography. I have a simple point-snap-and-giggle, but, to me, there is something really alluring about getting that perfect shot. And if it ain't perfect, that's okay, too. It's just so cool to stop time, as it were...and then digitally remaster it.

4. Road trips. I don't do them nearly enough, but isn't it great to just hop in the ole coche and hit the road? Crank open dem winders and slap your favorite CD in the player and just...let it all go? It's freeing; it's liberating; it may be running from the banality of everyday life, but so what? Road trips kick ass.

5. My girl Meagan. I have never met anyone with whom I have so strongly felt that click. When I am with her, my spirits are higher and my smile is wider and my contentedness is deeper. Enough said. If I say more, I'll be visiting CornyLand. :)

6. Reading. I don't read as much as I used to read, but there is often nothing better than just sitting or laying down and thumbing open that book in which you'll assuredly lose yourself.

7. My family and my dogs. My family has always been tightly-knit. I love each of my immediate family with a ferocity that is unquantifiable. My dogs are, simply put, my sons. For hours, I can just sit there and watch them interact and explore the backyard, chewing grass, loping and playing.

8. Scalding caffienated beverages. I love me some java. Hook me up with some joe. Brew me some liquid mud, and I'm (highly-energized) putty in your hands. I used to have a passion for beer, but, through trials (sometimes literal) and tribulations (innumerable), I came to the conclusion that, hey, maybe this passion was a killah. :-O


1. Travel to Europe. I don't really care where. I just wanna see the Old Country.

2. Jump out of a plane. I would like to do this with an operable parachute, please.

3. Publish a fucking book. I have loved to write for a long long time. I think it'd be pretty cool to see my name in print. And, if I got some money for it, that'd be cool, too.

4. Kick the fucking ciggie habit. I'm really really sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. (As I take a drag on my seemingly-omnipresent American Spirit and blow the smoke at the monitor.) I'm playing Russian Roulette with this habit, andf it's not even really fulfilling anymore. Take a hint, Bluto! Cram the smokes in the No-Return Bin!

5. Learn how to establish (and meet) goals.

6. Have rock-hard abs.

7. Have a rock-hard penis, one that could cut diamonds. :-O

8. Have a rock-hard will, rock-hard determination. With the will, there is pretty much always a way.


1. "Luigi...and...Oliverrrrrrrrrrah." My dogs' names. It's kind of a habit. Don't ask me why, because I truly don't know. Maybe I say it out of love?

2. "Eh-heh-heh. You said, 'Sixty-nine.' Eh-heh-heh."

3. "Sorry 'bout that."

4. "One of these days, I'll get in shape."

5. "One of these days, I'll stop smoking."

6. "One of these days, I'll have my debt paid off."

7. "God damn! Where has all the time gone?!"

8. "Damn, a nap sounds good."


1. Duma Key, by Stephen King.

2. Choke, by Chuck Palahniuk.

3. Marley & Me, by John Grogan.

4. The Society, by Michael Palmer.

5. Zen Dog, by Toni Tucker and Judith Adler.

6. The Blooding, by Joseph Wambaugh.

7. Next, by Michael Crichton.

8. Power to Change, by Harold Hill and Liz Rogers.

[Quite honestly, I don't know that I have ever seen a movie eight times. So...these are the movies that I have seen more than three or four times.]

1. "The Exorcist"

2. "Seven"

3. "Fight Club"

4. "Goodfellas"

5. "Fargo"

6. "Bram Stoker's Dracula," by F.F. Coppola

7. "Apocalypse Now"

8. "Office Space"


1. You.

2. You, too.

3. Meegie! You wanna do a meme, honey-chile?

4. George "Dubya" Bush. (This way, we can see if he can write.)

5. Prince Albert (in the can).

6. Charlie Manson. (That would be freaky, huh?)

7. Nighthawk Nan.

8. My sister, Melissa. Hey, sis! Whilst linking to your site, I just noticed that you have a new post! Sa-weet! I love reading your dryly-comedic writings! I'm off to read it after I publish this drivel. :-]

Anyway, that's the "Eight Things Meme." Hopefully this will prime my Writing Pump.


Saturday, May 10, 2008


So, um, when do you know that you're getting older, that your hand is on the Exit door handle of the seemingly-interminable lazy flares of your 20s and early-30s? When are you made aware that Life-As-Recess is over and it's high time--well past time--to start to buckle down and pretend to be a grownup? Is it when you notice that first clump of gray hair on your head? Is it when college cheerleaders start looking like the children they are? Is it when you wake up the morning after playing a couple, three games of pickup basketball and your body feels like a Mack truck ran over it while you slept?

Here's another one: you know that you're getting older when carnival rides start making you sick to your stomach. I used to pride myself on having an iron stomach. I could eat anything, assuredly drink anything, I could be battling flu-like symptoms and I still would not give up the ghost and pray to the porcelin god. It would take eating bad meat--or Egg Foo Yung--to get me to puke...other than that, I'd be golden. Not today. Today, my prideth was dingedeth.

Meagan and I went to the Rochester Fair today. 'Twas a beautiful day, perfect weather, and I had been feeling in tippy-top tip-top shape when we got there (save, of course, for the omnipresent tiredness that I blame on too many cigs, too much java and too much sleep apnea-interrupted winkeye). We each bough the twenty dollar all-you-can-ride wrist strap and we were good to go.
The first ride we went on was the one that kind of spins you in two directions at once. There was a bit of tightness in my gut and my knees were weak when I got off, but, other than that, all was good. I wanted to ride more. We went on the Pharoh's Boat next, the ride that is in the shape of, well, a boat, and it swings waaaaaaaaaay up and waaaaaaay back so that the riders are either looking straight into the heavens or looking straight down at the rest of the revelers. 'Twas fine. I like heights. My stomach gurgled a bit, but I dismissed it as the "afterglow" from the large Mello Yello that I had consumed. Three or four rides and two or three games later, we were nearing the end of our fun time and so we went on one last ride.

It seemed like such an innocuous motherscratching ride when I first looked at it. Shit, even the wee ones were bored with it. It's kind of like a hang glider-type ride in which the riders lay on their tummies and stretch out their hands and get whipped around in a circle, across various planes of altitude. Sounds like a joy, no? Well, actually, no. Even typing this makes my stomach tighten up a bit. We flew around about ten or fifteen times and, I tell you, I was praying for the damned ride to end. The contents of my stomach stayed in place, but it was damned close. Too close.

We staggered off the ride and mutually (of course we did; we're twins of the wavelength, don'tcha know) decided that that would have to be enough.

Meagan looked at me and said, "Adam, are you all right? You're as white as a ghost."

I grimaced a smile and told her that I would be all right. I was fine, hon, but--hey!--time to go, huh?! Yes. It was. We stopped at the Qdoba restaurant to get some burritos and taco salads (we stayed in the car until my tummy felt a little better) and then I acquiesced to Meagan's suggestion that we stop by the CVS and get some motion sickness pills.

See, the thing is, feeling sick from the rides seemed like an affront to me. My pride told me that my stomach was titanium-plated and lined with iron. Um, no.

I felt progressively worse as I drove back to her place and, when we got there, I sat in the car for a beat longer than I needed to, burped a bit of acid into my throat and staggered up the stairs to her front door. And then came the hiccups. Now, listen, I know what comes after the hiccups.

I turned to her, then, still presumably Casper-like, and I said, "Um, maybe I should visit the bathroom, make myself sick."

"Let me turn on the radio," she said. Good idea. Drown out the Sounds o' Sickness. Damned good idea.

So, there I was, hardly even having to poke a finger in my mouth to get the waterworks going, my gurgles and heaves accompanied by former Genesis frontman Phil Collins loudly advising the listeners that they couldn't hurry love, no, they just had to wait.

Thanks--glug!--Phil. Ploo-haw!


Not to get into too much detail--but, seriously, why stop now?--but my vomit, having eaten nothing but a bowl of Cracklin' Oat Bran at 11:00 and drinking nothing but Mello Yello at the fair, was nothing but yellowish bile, tinging towards a lovely acidic red at the end of the five or six quality liquid-y purges.


So I guess I'll be applying for the AARP newsletter in the next couple of months.

Days of youth...where for art thou?


WORDS: monopoly, double, smile, mexico, serendipity, monster, bomb, sun, stationary, warning.

When one is looking down the barrel of a .45, one’s surroundings tend to get dimmer. The ceiling fades first. Then the tables and the chairs begin to turn fuzzy, turn sepia-toned and then they fade from view, too. The pictures on the wall? Forget them. They weren’t even noticed before the big guy with blank black eyes and the big muscles and the big gun pulled out his gun and leveled it. For a majority of people, their right eye is dominant, and so the left wall fades first and the right follows shortly thereafter until all one is aware of is the gaping maw--Hudson Tunnel-sized, now--of the .45’s muzzle. It looks malevolent; it is malevolent, and, for the first time in his heretofore short but impassioned life, Giavonni Volietti, felt passionless. He felt great fear. But he still felt somewhat alive. But. He had only himself to blame. They (whoever “they” are) say that when faced with mortal danger, time slows and one’s senses become more acute. Vonny had this to add to what “they” had asserted: One’s life does most definitely roller coast through one’s mind. And images do flit and do flash and do swim to the surface and then sink back to the black. As for sensory stimulation? That was true, too. Vonny could smell what the dude had eaten for lunch--a marinara meatball sub on Asiago bread with green olives and peppers and onions and a pinch of oregano. And a couple or three Budweisers. And, yes, time does slow down. Until it crawls. Like a snail in molasses.
* * * * *
“Vonny the Violet.” Not a moniker most men would embrace. And Giavonni Volietti was no different. Growing up in Brooklyn in the mostly-blue collar Italian neighborhood of 32nd and Brush, and with just a few friends, Volietti had had his fair share of scrapes and fights and nasty catcalls hurled his way. He dealt with the belittlement the way his father had taught him: He swung first and often. The taunts had started off slowly, but by the time he was in junior high school, Volietti was fighting every other day at school, winning more fights than he lost. He swung first and often, and, eventually, the taunts dissipated and dried up, and “Vonny the Violet” was a nickname that he could wrap his arms around. The little flower is a bad-ass, people began to say, and, by the way, do you know who his friends are? His friends were the sons of middle-echlon soldiers for the Rattiano Family. They had strength, and Vonny soaked up that strength like a sponge. Before long, Vonny, then a freshman at St. Mary High School, exercised a monopoly over all the deviance of the school. He ran numbers games; he ran dice games; he owned St. Mary’s pubescent gamblers. And even the seniors, and their friends, listened when Vonny spoke. He dropped out of high school after his sophomore year and his mama, Rita, cried--his dad hadn’t. Had his dad, a somewhat-bitter plumber, seen the looks that Vonny received or had his dad heard the word on the street? Vonny never found out. They’d never had a particularly close relationship and his dad, Anthony Volietti, had fallen dead of a massive stroke a year after Vonny’d quit the schooling. But, by that time, just seventeen, Giavonni Volietti was making a name for himself. Backed by his Rattiano friends, and using their muscle, “Vonny the Violet” was making a big name for himself. And, eventually, others would take notice.
* * * * *
“Hey sweetie, make mine a double.” He teethed at the new bartender, nineteen if she were a day, and leaned against the bar stool’s back, his arms folded behind his head. Clad in a shiny new blue silk suit, 18-year-old Giavonni Volietti, had the world by the balls. He owned the world, making two grand a week, apartmenting out of the squalor of the old neighborhood, and he wanted to make this pretty girl, with a swell of breast, aware. “What’s your name, baby-doll?”
“First, I’m not a ’baby-doll’ or your ’sweetie.’ Second, I just do this shit-job so that I can go to college at night. And third, you can’t even shave yet, little man. What’re you doing in here? Shouldn’t you be studying Geometry, or something?” She stood back, hands on flaring hips, her dark eyes flashing. Without a hint of a smile.
Volietti sighed. Leaned forward. Elbows on the bar. He pasted a suave look to his countenance. Eyebrows up, brown eyes wide. “Honey, honey, honey. Don’t you know who I am?” He smiled his baby-gonna-getcha smile.
“No. I guess I don’t know who you are,” she said. “Would you like a Diet Coke, though? Or some milk? Or maybe you could show me your ID,” she added.
Victor, at Vonny’s right shoulder, laughed. “Dude, good luck with this chick. She do mean bidness!” And he laughed again.
Vonny glared at Vic and Vic’s laughter dried. “Abby?” Vonny said, gesturing. “Abby? Will you set this woman straight, please? Just a double Jim Beam. All I’m asking.”
Abby, 42, slouchy and pale, extracted herself from the bar’s shadows and winced to the bar. Abby had been working at the Golden Eagle for just under ten years, and it was evident. Dark shadows under her deadened blue eyes. Slumped shoulders. Apron tied carelessly around too-ample hips. Dead eyes. With dark shadows. She sighed. Cocked a thumb at the patrons. “Angela, this here is Vonny. And that’s Vic. Both cool. Get him what he wants.”
Angela glared at Vonny and turned to Abby. “But he’s not 21,” she said. “I don’t even think he’s 15.”
Victor laughed again and finished his beer. “Another, ma’am?” Holding up his stein.
“Sure, no problem. At least you know what a razor is.”
Abby: “Get him his beer and get Vonny his…whatever. It’s all on the house. It’s always…on the house.” With that, she turned and slouched back to her shadows. Her duty was done.
Angela blew exasperation through her lips and glared at Vonny. “Whatever. Just don’t call me ’baby-doll’ again. Or ‘sweetie.’” She turned to get the drinks.
Vonny held up his hands in mock surrender and then smoothed his black, gelled hair. To Victor, he whispered, “She’s a freaking firecracker. And I’ll know her…soon.”
Vic sighed and smiled. “You know what, Vonny? I don’t doubt you for a minute. You have a way about you, man. You are living the good life. But Karma, man. Karma….”
Vonny laughed abrasively--Abby winced--and cracked his knuckles. “Fuck Karma.”
* * * * *
When a .45 is leveled at one’s face, surrounding scenery dissipates till nothing is left but the Grand Canyon-sized maw of the firearm’s muzzle.
* * * * *
Later, on the night Vonny had met Acerbic Angela, he’d dreamed deeply. He hadn’t dreamed since his dad had passed. Not that he could remember, at least. But he remembered this dream, and woke on the floor of his bedroom, shivering and sweating, a scream frozen behind his lips:

Mexico. Sweltering. Moist heat. What his father’s mother had called “el Diablo’s pendejo.” And that, from a Sicilian grayhair. In the dream, Vonny knows something’s amiss. He walks through the scrubby brush of rural Mexico, and rattlers raise on end, swiping , barely missing, punching furnace heat past face. He is eight years old again, scared of everything, scared of nothing. His gym-formed body is reduced to an eight-year-old’s scrawniness: chest concave, arms sticks. Heat ripples. No oasis to be found. Rattlers swipe and miss, punching furnace heat past his tearless sobs. Alone. Alone in the desert. And eight. Vonny weeps air-tears, each tear arcing brilliant green shoots through the brown of Desert. He sees something ahead. It is Angela. It must be. He puts his eight-year-old scrawn to the test, running to beat el Diablo. Morass; taffy. The shimmering Angel in the distance stays away, retreats. And the heat bakes, as he runs. And runs. And runs. His tiny lungs burn. Burn with the ice-cold heat of narcissistic meglomania. And his body shifts once again. He is 12, shucking greenbacks off of believers. Shift up: He is 15, chatting up the plaid female that is St. Mary. Shift up: He is 17, resplendent in black silk, in good with the bad guys. And he thanks his lucky stars to swipe away the tears of his bitter father. And Angela is there, somewhere, past the horizon. Vonny, baking, sweating blood, smiles. He walks purposefully. The desert shimmers; the desert shimmers. Footing is muy dificil. The desert folds on itself, folds and folds again. Serendipity? Far from it. Far from it. Oh-so far from a fortunate discovery. The desert folds again. There is black-dark around where the sky and the horizon should be. There is black beneath his feet. There is nothing left of the unwilling desert but the straight-ahead, blinded Vision of the Vonny. And that shrinks, too. Blackness. Nothing but blackness. Save for the Blue-Black. The Blue-Black muzzle of Righteousness. And Vonny believes quite strongly in Righteousness; and so he feels--knows--he must have a palaver with the Righteousness, and so he opens his mouth
And Vonny found himself on the floor of his well-furnished bedroom, shivering and sweating, a scream stuck behind his lips.
* * * * *
“So you had a dream? So the fuck what?”
“So the fuck what is that I haven’t dreamed in a coon’s age and then this shit dream comes out of nowhere. Listen, Vic, I believe in Karma. Like you said the other night?”
Victor Rattiano sighed and stroked the eight-ball off of two banks and into the side pocket. “Game. Listen, man: Listen! I was only joking about Karma. I don’t believe in that shit. Karma is for suckers—Protestants, Greeks, whatever. They believe in that crap. I don’t. Play again?”
“Hindus. Yeah--play again, dickhead. Anyway, Hindus believe in Karma and nirvana and that sort of stuff. I gotta say, Vic, I do too.” Vonny began to set the new rack and then straightened up. “What the fuck am I doing? Have I ever set a rack?” He pushed back from the table and scrubbed his eyes. His bloodshot eyes.
“Yeah…yeah, Vonny? What the fuck, man?” Victor walked quickly to the other side of the table and solid-striped his way to a rack. Eight ball? Always in the middle. “Dude, if you have a thing for this Angela chick, ask her out, man. Easy as that. ’Would you like to maybe grab a cup of coffee, sometime?’ Seven or eight words, man. You’re loaded with green, you have great hair, you dress well…what?”
“Sounds like you want me to ask you out…dude.”
“You’re a fucking monster, Flower-Boy. You’re a fucking monster. Even if I was a chick, and you were the last circle-arrow on Eart--”
“Sign for dude, man. The ladies’ is a circle-cross. Pointing down, if you know what I mean.” He chucked a laugh.
“Oh. Okay.”
“Anyway, to summarize: You’re a monster--”
“A fucking monster, sir.”
“Right. You’re a fucking monster and even if I was the last lady on Earth…if I was the last female on Earth…or, wait…if you was the last dude on Earth--”
“Have another, Vic, why don’t you? If I have to sit here and listen to you bomb your way through another fucking analogy, I might just have to go on a bender of coffee and Valium and Bette Midler movies.” Vonny raised his eyebrows at Vic.
Vic: “Say it ain’t so, man!” He feigned weeping into his crossed arms.
“It isn’t so, sir. You won--break.”
And so Victor Rattiano broke. And won the billiards game. And after he drove Vonny the Violet back to Vonny’s well-furnished apartment, Victor wasn’t seen again for three weeks. When he was found…when he was found…. When he was found by a teary-eyed 28-year-old blonde jogger who clutched her hands between her small breasts, police and firefighters were on the scene. And yellow tape was cautioning. And the shit had most definitely hit the fan. And Giavonni Volietti, smarmy, back-dealing, rich beyond his years, was not to be found.
* * * * *
The Sun shines, always. Even sheltered--hidden--behind dark clouds, the Sun shines. Brings life to the planet. Enables crops to grow and plants to bloom and human souls to survive. The Sun shines, thrives, and Giavonni Volietti believes this, still. A mantra continues to run through his head, as he stares into the muzzle of a big-assed handgun. The .45, a most-powerful handgun. Nothing else matters but this Niagra Falls-sized maw of deadly intent. Nothing else matters. Not his dead plumber father, not his absent siblings, not even his dear graying mother. All that matters is the black hole of the muzzle of the .45, and the man at the trigger. Bill Shimmons. Boyfriend to Angela Smith, the hot new barkeep at the Golden Eagle.
* * * * *
“Hey, sweetie, make mine a double,” Vonny had said again, alone, and this time? This time, Angela had.
* * * * *
Time slows; it becomes almost stationary. Life’s mental images do flit and do flash and do swim to the surface and then back to the black. The black of memory. And the light of memory. Thoughts and images do flash across one’s mind, when one is in mortal danger: Pre-school accidents, quality wins as junior high sportskid, high school inadequacies, first kisses, first loves, first deaths, sport teams’ victories, familial love, Mike Jordan’s scoring average during the 1987 NBA basketball season (37.1) and many many other flashes of neurons. The synapses fire so quickly whilst one is at Death’s door, why, the images blend into one image--a silent, beautifully brilliant, cacaphonic visual bliss--they can never be equaled, in any way, at any time. It is a once-in-a-lifetime “moment.”
* * * * *
“I’m warning you--you and Angie even talk again, these bullets that I have loaded in this hand-cannon will end your fucking love-fest…Dude. Yours, most definitely, and Angie’s? Ain’t decided yet.” Shimmons leans in, presses cold blue steel against Giavonni Volietti’s eyebrow. “Do I make myself clear?”
* * * * *
dear old mama and dear dead daddy and sisters who have slipped away and sun that shines and brings warmth to these cold times and the good god above and his baby son jesus and the sunsets at night and the sunrises in the mornings and Jessica, the first girl I ever kissed and Marilyn the first girl I ever went all the way with and shooting threes and making threes and hitting that perfect drive in golf and soaking up the sun’s rays and sipping a cold one on a hot summer’s day and playing with my childhood pooch and and and and…and taking money from suckas and cheating the system and boning easy whores and splitting a man’s face with an axe and and and and…loving the shelter of home before daddy died and laughing with my friends about how he was a fucking plumber and loving him for it and loving my poor graying mamacita who never passed seventh grade in italy dumb bitch and wondering where victor is hidden if he’s all right and denouncing my ties to the cosa nostra and loving it--bitches violent eyetalian bitches--and and and and…remembering my gramma my daddy’s mom who always had frozen twinkies for me and my absent sisters and loving nana’s dog gigi and hating how grandpa always smelled like juicy fruit gum and liquor of one sort or the other and biking with the parents and the sisses down to coney island in nueva york and my oldest sister crying and me plugging right away and my mommy saying what a good boy I was. And I ask now, deer sir: be you a doe or will you actually use said hand-cannon? I tend to believe that you’re all talk you muscle-bound piece of garbage--can’t even buy shirts that fit correctly--Angela never asked for that. By the way? How is Angela?
* * * * *
Giavonni “Vonny the Violet” Volietti stands slowly, the muzzle of a heavy .45 pressed against his left eyebrow, the scenery of the room filtering back, slowly. The chairs return before the ceiling and the left and right walls--surprising, but not a buzz-kill. The .45’s muzzle slides off of Vonny’s eyebrow and clacks against his whitened teeth. And then the muzzle is in his mouth. Metal, tin-foil, grease. Vonny is not one to panic. And he doesn’t. Calmly, he folds his arms behind his head, fingers interlocked, in a classic “prisoner” position. His eyes are like dark glass--they hold no emotion.
Shimmons, who outweighs Vonny by 45 pounds and towers six inches above the Flower’s head, retreats, his gun barrel shaking, slightly. “You’re a tough guy, huh?” he says.
Volietti shakes his head slowly. Nope.
Shimmons says, “Me and Angela is gonna get married, man. She’ll be my fucking wife!” Shimmons points the gun, distractedly, at Giavonni.
Giavonni shrugs, arms still in “prisoner position.” So what? You gonna use that, cowboy?
“Don’t ever let me see you ‘round my wife again!”
Giavonni shrugs, arms still in “prisoner position.” So what? You gonna use that, cowboy?
“Never!” Face red, sweat beading at the temples, gun forgotten. “Who are you, silent bitch? Charlie-fucking-Chaplin? Buster Keaton?!”
Giavonni shrugs, arms still in “prisoner position.” So what? You gonna use that, cowboy?
“You’re a fucking nut, man! You do know that this is a .45, man?! Fucking nut bag. You deserve my fucking fiancee!” Shimmons shimmies, drops the .45. Picks it up, quick-like. The “5-second Rule” is in effect.
Giavonni shrugs, arms still in “prisoner position.” So what?
Shimmons drops the gun; Vonny kicks it to the corner. “So what? You were gonna use that, cowboy?”
Shimmons begins to speak and Voliette interjects-- “Leave.”


"Quiet, Freddy. I'm doin' something, here."
Timothy York looked back to the television that had been awarded to him when his grandmother had passed on. It was a grainy old black-and-white Zenith, some arifact left from the middle of the previous century, but it got the job done. Sure, he had to mess with the rabbit-ears every once in awhile and, sure, cable was a no-go--no connection on the back of the beast--but it still served its purpose. It allowed him to watch his sports and his newscasts and his favorite genre of movies--old-style Bronte-esque Romanticism flicks. Sometimes York thought to himself that he would have been a fine "gentleman caller," back in the 1800s. Verily, he would be the one to lay his coat in the puddle so that the lady wouldn't get her toes wet. He would have have been the type of dandy who would open doors and rise when the lady rose. And sit only after said lady sat. It seemed to him, sometimes, that the 21st Century had come too quickly. And when it had come? Manners and chivalry had exited, it seemed, to stage left. The 21st Century, when everything was a quick sound byte and news was old news four seconds later. The 21st Century, when most media lived by the mottos "shock thy neighbor," and "get the story first, right or wrong." When nothing sold better than sex and violence. The 21st Century, as far as Tim York was concerned, could stick a sock in it, could go fly a kite. York longed for simpler days. Which was a dichotomy, of course, considering for whom he worked.
His Great Dane Alfredo (Freddy) had stopped whining about whatever he had been whining about--he was a practical dog; he knew whence his food came--and now he ambled over to the couch and laid his brindled head in York's lap.
"Good old Freddy," he said, stroking the dog's ears. "Always wanting to be a lap dog." York turned his attention back to "Sense and Sensiblity," starring Emma Thompson. An instant-classic, in his mind.


"Hey, Timmy. Timmy! Timmy, come 'ere. I got to ask the smart college boy a question."
Tim York set down the glass that he'd been drying and walked over to where his boss and his associates were seated. "Yes sir?"
Antonio Guliatti looked up at him, with slightly-watery eyes, and gestured loosely with his left hand. "Drag up a stone, kid. I don't like looking up at people. You know that. Makes me feel like a shoe-shine boy, or somethin'." A high-pitched laugh warbled out of his barrel chest and his associates dutifully joined in.
"Sorry, sir." York pulled a folding chair from the corner and sat. He looked fixedly at the table.
"Yes, sir."
"Kid, I gotta ask you a question. Tommy, here--" Guliatti swam a thumb in the general direction of a sallow-faced man with shiny black hair "--Tommy here's tellin' me about this artist. The dude was a painter. The guy painted all kinds of crazy shit and I'm tellin' Tommy that the guy was an Italian. And Tommy's sayin' that the guy was a friggin' Greek! Now, kid, you're a smart kid. You did some time at college, right?"
York nodded.
"Okay, then." Guliatti stared at Tommy and then turned his attention to York. "You tell me and this whole table of assholes, here, that I'm right. Okay?"
York nodded.
"Slovian Darling was from Italy. Italy. Correct?"
York stared.
"I'm right as rain? Right?"
"Kid, I'm right as rain that Slovian Darling was from Italy, right?"
York felt his ears getting red. He was in a pickle. "Mr. Guliatti, sir, I've--I've never heard of an artist named Slovian Darling, sir."
Guliatti sighed heavily, which was always a bad sign. Sometimes, after a heavy sigh, the recipient's car could blow up, or he could find a beloved pet missing, or something worse. He flashed a grin at York that seemed as real as a three-dollar bill. Guliatti's hooded eyes didn't smile. "Kid? Listen carefully."
York nodded.
"This dude from Italy lived until, like, 1970, or something, and he drew all these messed-up pictures like clocks was melting and the crickets was in the shape of dudes and he had all these kind of..." Guliatti struggled for the word, and York felt a small pleasure. "...kind of, oh--"
"Motiffs?" said Rocco, quietly.
"Yeah? Yeah! More teefs. That's it. Thanks Rocco. The check's in the mail. Anyway. This Darling dude had all these more teefs that kept showing up in his drawings. Like the clocks. The melted clocks. And, what else? What else..? God."
"Crutches?" said Rocco, quietly.
"Yeah! Them too! Drippin' clocks and crutches. They was Darling's more teefs. Now, tell me, college boy. Tell me and Tommy, here. Where was Darling from?"
York pondered the question carefully. Bad job? Sure. He was working for a man who wielded power over many shady characters and payed badly, too. Said boss also, however, had the city of Newark by the short hairs. With power and unyielding ferocity, Antonio "Big Cat" Guliatti had risen to control everything in Newark. Everything. Everything from bookmaking and chop-shops to prostitution and drug trafficking. The man had power. And he'd used it often to reach his high perch. York thought, Tread carefully, kemo sabe. On the other hand, the man was a bully and a jackass. Anyone, in York's mind, who called Salvador Dali "Slovian Darling" and thought he had been Italian needed to have his Intelligence Quotient revoked. But it was a slippery situation. York opted for avoidance. "Sir, that turkey you gave me last Thanksgiving was delicious." [The turkey had, in fact, probably gone bad before his boss had given to him, but York had cooked it, anyway, and had gotten past two mouthfuls before throwing the bird into the Dumpster. But, when in Rome....]
Guliatti blinked at him. And blinked again. Slowly. Almost in slow-motion. York was reminded, visually, of a goldfish with big bulging eyes and he had to bite his tongue to keep from snickering.
"Yes, sir."
Guliatti turned his full attention to York. He now felt the presence that the big man contained. His eyes burned into him. His gaze made York's stomach do a lazy flip-flop. "Kid, I like you. You're a good worker, for me. But, kid, you seem to have a hearing problem. I didn't ask you about a goddamn turkey. I asked you about Slovian Darling and what country he came from." Guliatti smiled that chilling smile. The we're-all-pals-here-but-if-you-mess-with-me-again-I'll-feed-you-to-the-pigs smile. "See? Tommy here thinks he came from Greece. I know better. I know the dude came from Italy. I got some coin on this one, kid. Care to arbitrate the bet?"
Occasionally, the big guy got a word right. Not often, but when he did, the trumpets flared and the angels sang. It was always such a big, celestial, mind-fuck.
York tried on a grin, and the grin slid away. He crossed his arms over his chest and slouched and slouched and slouched back into his chair until his ass was higher than his head. Or so it felt. He cleared his throat. "Sir, Mr. Guliatti, sir. I think, maybe, who you're talking about? Sir? I think you and Mr. Tortinni are actually? I think you sirs are actually talking about Salvador Dali. And, sir? He was a Spainard. I think he was born in Madrid." York had no idea from what city Dali had been birthed, but he felt the need, the overwhelming need, to keep chattering. Like his teeth. "It's like this: Salvador Dali was a pretty, uh, funny guy and he had a pet ocelot that he used to bring to restaurants in New York and, uh, I know that he painted some paintings that came to be known as surrealistic and he had this really, uh, funny mustache that kinda curled up and tha--"
"Kid." Death-clap.
York cleared his throat. "Uh. Yes, sir?"
"Torment me once more, kid. Make me look like a jackass in front of my associates once more, kid." Guliatti held up a fat index finger. This time, there was no smile, fake or otherwise. York's face went white and his balls searched for sanctuary in his abdomen. Mama, Daddy, little sis, I loved you all.
"Sir?" he croaked.
Guliatti raised his huge right fist; it sparkled, in the overhead light, from his pinky ring. The fist swung down, down, and turned into an open palm. Guliatti smacked him, hard--harder than necessary--on his right shoulder. Guliatti laughed. And his associates joined him, hesitantly. "You're all right, kid. You're all right. You gotcha some elephant balls on you to tell me, to my face, that I don't know shit about art, but you're a good kid, anyway."
Color drained back into York's face. He stage-whispered, "Thank you, sir."
Guliatti nodded. "Now, kid? Now?"
York nodded slowly. What, prick? What?
"Get my friends here and me some more drinks."
York rose from his seat on wobbly knees.
"And make sure, this time, you put some fucking rocks in my sour. Capiche?"
Timothy York had, in fact, put three ice cubes into Antonio Guliatti's previous whiskey sour. He knew that for the fact that it was. But, realizing that intact kneecaps were the better part of valor, he nodded dolefully, and he made his way back to the bar upon shaky, licorice-legs.
Behind, he heard, "Push. It's a friggin' push, Tommy!" And sodden laughter.


Life is like a balloon. Timothy York knows this. Timothy York realizes that a balloon, at birth, is flat. And, then: Helium or human breath is breathed into the balloon. Gives the balloon Life. With care, the balloon will rise, become plump, healthy. And then, at that point, the balloon has its own identity. It can rise, like Icarus, to the Sun, or it can bounce around, get volleyed into the air, float majestically for mere seconds and fall to the following volley.

York wanted to be Icarus. He wanted Helium. He wanted to float way the hell away. Never to be seen, again. The image had crossed his mind. As he sat, watching Audrey Hepburn in a Romanticism flick, the thought that had flashed was that he was a poet and that, also, if he stuck with Guliatti, he'd either be dead or in prison or living a very very bad life. And then Freddy had come over and had actually climbed into York's lap. Freddy, supersized-lap dog, all gangly limbs and giant head and huge, empathetic heart. And York had allowed his pooch his ear.
Alfredo, he said, what do you think about the Big Cat? And Freddy growled, deep in his throat. Okay, he said. What do you think about me working for such a man? A bully, a cocksuck? And Freddy growled, deeper, and the hairs on his nape rose. Okay, okay, York said. Fredo? Kid? You tell me. I have a shitload of info on this cat. Should I become a canary? Should I sing, big boy?
And Freddy hadn't growled. Rather, he'd lifted his unwieldy head and slouched off to the darkest corner of the room, whereupon he licked himself. Loudly.
"Quiet, Freddy. I'm doin' something here."


Police headquarters. Bleak blank and boring. Industrial paint on the walls. No paintings. Cries from indigents and drunks. Loud arguments. The click-clack of computer keyboards. The sharp smell of bleach.
"Officer, I have a heck of a lot on Guliatti."
Officer William Percy Henderbrook. 40-ish. Muscular. Shiny pate. Porn mustache. The odd odd habit of repeating everthing he said, to a lesser degree.
"So you have the goods on Big Cat? You got goods?"
York answered, "Sir, I know what he does, how he does it. I don't actually have any paper proof of it, but I know that nasty shit goes down. And I'm sick of working under such a friggin' devil. Sir."
"So you have no proof. No proof?"
York shrugged. "No sir, Officer. I don't have tangible stuff...."
Henderbrook stroked his facial hair. "So, kid, what you're trying to tell me is that Antonio Guliatti is a big-assed "Goodfella" crime boss? He lives the Cosa Nostra life? He's got Ray Liotta and Bobby and Joe Pesci as his backdoor boys? Does his Uncle Pauly shave the garlic with a razor? Does the garlic melt in the pan?"
York goggled.
"Because, Mr. York, what it seems to me, simply, is that you are a disgruntled employee, looking to sully your old boss. And we don‘t have time for those kinds of games, here. The clock’s always ticking."
"I can tell you, sir, I am not enamored with your caveman-like questioning. I came here in good faith and as a law-abiding citizen." York stood tall; he stretched every inch out of his 5'5" frame. His eyes spoke of murderous injustice.
"Son," said the officer. "You just keep on making those 'wide-eyes' at me. Keep it up. You ever been in a jail cell? A holding room?"
"No sir."
Henderbrook sighed. "Well, kid, keep up your facial fucking gymnastics and I'll see you in the morning. When the sun does rise."
York thought. He looked at the clock on the wall and then he looked at his feet. He still had freedom, to do with what he would. He offered the pig a muddy expression. "So I can go, then? Officer...Sir?"
"Mr. York. At this point in the interview, it is your privlege to scoot. But you came here with some very very deregatory statements against Mr. Guliatti, who--and I'm sure you know this--owns about half the friggin’ city." Henderbrook sighed heavily. “Just clue us in. Or don't. It's your call. Your song to sing."
York said, "You know what, Sir?"
"Yes. What is it? What?"
Fade to black, baby....

Always...Timothy York had always considered himself above, past, more mature than--whatever--a snitch. But Time, it seemed, had caught up to him. He was older than the 8-year-old who’d refused to incriminate his schoolmate who’d thrown up in the coat room; he was older than the 13-year-old who’d looked the other way when his buddies had trashed the ice sculptures; shit, he wasn’t 18 anymore, armed with the belief that if the other guys wanted to smoke reefer under the bridge then who the fuck was he to tell them any different? Was he a father or a mother or a police officer? Nope. He was himself, Tim. And so he’d never snitched on anyone. In his life. But times had changed. And now he wasn’t talking about vomit, ice chips or herb. For sure…now he was talking about vice and jewelry and drug rings. He had a responsibility to the innocents of New Jersey. But, now, a piss-ant-lackey-cop for Guliatti. It was sort of funny, in a way. What was that song? How did it go? “Win the lottery then die the very next day?” “Blah blah blah like a fly in the Chardonnay?” He had another lyric that the woman may have, could have used: “Float like a butterfly all your day / Once to sing, get found in the bay.” Snared by the spiderweb of Guliatti. Isn’t it ironic?


Timothy York said, "Sir, you can take your melody of dirty ratting and and shove it in your trashcan. Sir."
Henderbrook sighed heavily. To York's untrained ear, it sounded like a sigh of relief. "Son. Son, you'd best get the heck out of my office before I do something silly, like book you on a false police report. No lies, please." York left. Quickly. He had bigger fish to fry.

Saturday, May 03, 2008


"It's a good day for cleaning." I think that I have heard that from my mom about a thousand times, most often (m)uttered on a day like today: it rains, it stops, it rains, it stops, it get the idea. Overcast and drizzly, sometimes outright shower-y.

So, today, I have made my mother proud. I mopped the kitchen floor, cleaned off the refrigerator, organized the photos and magnets and other not-so-pertinent knick-shit-knacks on said fridge, I cleaned off the stove, I debated organizing/tackling the "junk" counter (saving it for later), and I organized the chemicals that I have on the top of the refrigerator.

And now it is sunny again.

Louie and Oliver have been casting uneasy looks at me (mostly Lou) for the last hour or so, apparently nonplussed by my manic cleaning. Get used to it, kids. I am sick and tired of living in a "house o' skank," a house that has dust everywhere and secretive grime. Oh, and dog hairs. I am sick of them, too.

To paraphrase (and I'm not quite sure that one can paraphrase an axiom), here's another of mi mamacita's axioms: "When your house is clean, it makes you feel so good." Sho nuff, C-Money, sho nuff.