Posts Tagged ‘lapre’
Finally the first warm Saturday of the year! Time to get up out of my small hard empty bed, throw on some gym clothes and hit the jogging path. Before I left I choked down a cold pork and leek dumpling with some orange juice and grabbed my iPod and keys. I hit play. Com Truise, the band Zucker and I saw last week in Greenwich Village, made for some great running music. I took off down 18th Avenue towards Gravesend Bay and lost my self in the pure electronic soundscape. Fifteen minutes into the run I was at the water. Thirsty, I longed for a Red Fish Ale, water from the bubbler I spied at the park across the street would suffice though. I paused the music to listen to the waves hit the barrier rocks below me. I saw seagulls pick at the garbage floating amid the otherwise clear water. There were huge ships further out into the bay. I couldn’t let the moment linger much longer though, I had to keep going. Running faster and faster on the asphalt, passing families of Hassidic Jews pushing strollers, dressed head to toe in black traditional wear and Chinese families with their packs of rambunctious little kids running circles around them made for some difficult maneuvering and interesting company.
The jogging path goes for miles, I ran two of them at the most. Along it are rather unremarkable sights; running west I had the bay to my left and the Shore Parkway to my right. The occasional grassy hill gave way to unobstructed views of the highway and the surrounding neighborhood of Bay Ridge. Along the wall separating the path from the water are numerous highly detailed signs explaining how, during a severe storm, the massive pipes below said signs connect the New York City sewer system to the bay where it can dump any overflow from the system in to the water. Lovely. Just think, Coney Island beaches are all but a few miles down stream from the drains. Looks like I won’t be swimming in those I thought.
At a corner of the path there were a few benches where people were sitting. One notable character was sitting directly in the sun, wearing a black suit, reading and sweating profusely. I took a seat not too from him and looked out onto the bay. The view was calming. I could see New Jersey in the distance and the Verrazzano bridge towering above me. Taking a moment to reflect, thoughts of spending summer afternoons on the Newport cliffs gazing out onto the Atlantic filled my mind. I wished I could relive those moments now.
It was getting late and I was hungry. I jogged my way back to the foot bridge that went over the highway and made my way back up 18th Avenue. People were getting out of church, there were cars everywhere, even parked fully on the sidewalks. Further up the avenue the crowds of people got more dense. I saw an ambulance up ahead one block from me. There was a group of people standing around an old lady who had apparently fallen. I felt bad for her and wondered what happened. Closer to my apartment I saw the police pull a lady over for no apparent reason. There was no way she could have been speeding as I was easily keeping up with the traffic on foot. I figured he was probably just trying to get his quota for the day.
Back at the apartment I had some lunch and thought about going to Central Park the next day. This is a good way to start my summer in New York.
Kevin let go of his mother after a few minuets of consoling her and looked at her blood shot eyes and asked her what had happened.
“Well it was like this;” she stammered, “I had just got the mail around 2, right after Jessica got in. I was glancing through what we got and noticed a letter from our bank. It was addressed to Steve and me, so I opened it up and read it carefully. It read,
‘Dear Mr. & Mrs. Steve Crawly, this letter is to inform you that your checking account, number 1230-4560-789, has been overdrawn by $2,349.69. This debt must be settled as soon as possible. Please contact John Wainright, Sovereign Bank branch Manager at 508 595-2000 x12 as soon as possible to prevent action by the collection agency. Thank you for your promptness.’
“At that I called Steve on his cell phone but it was not on so I left a message telling him to call me as soon as he gets this message. Well he never called back and I became angry so once he came in the door I yelled at him. He yelled back and we started to fight. I had made myself a drink before he came in to calm my self but it didn’t work. I asked him about the overdraft on the checking account but he would not tell me what it was, saying only that ‘he would take care of it.’ I told him he has to tell me what all that money was for but he refused and began to scream at me, yelling it was none of my business and accusing me of spending the money. I screamed at him and he took his beer bottle and threw it at my face where it hit me right here,” as she pointed to the bloody cut and bruise on her left cheek, “and he stormed out.”
“Damn mom, was he drunk?”
“No, just mad I guess. You know how your father’s temper gets.”
“Yea but I thought you two got that straightened out when you went to the counselor?”
“Well it’s not the first time we’ve been and it hasn’t worked out. Plus he thinks that Dr. Shekenhousen is an idiot any way. He never really listened to her anyway.”
“Well mom, what are we gonna do then?”
“I don’t know Kevin, I really don’t know. All I know is that we have really serious problem with this money missing.”
Kevin gave his mother another hug and walked with Tony down to his room in the basement. Tony took a seat on the bed after clearing a bunch of car magazines off it and looked down at the messy floor. “Damn kid, you gotta clean this room up. It’s a friggin mess.” Kevin didn’t respond as he sat at his computer typing away to one of his friends online. “Dude so what are we doing tonight?”
“I really don’t know. I just wanna get out of this house before World War three starts,” Kevin responded in a tired voice.
“Try calling Mike up and see if he wants to play some pool at Fast Breaks.”
“Okay,” Kevin replied. “What time should I tell him to meet us?”
“Like ten o’clock or so.”
“All right, I’ll call him in a minute.”
Kevin and Tony went out with Mike later on that night and played some pool for a few hours. After they got back Kevin went to bed and Tony stayed up talking to Kevin’s mother because she was begging for attention again (i.e. balling her eyes out – Kevin was sick of hearing about his mother’s problems but Tony felt bad and volunteered to be her shoulder to cry on). After talking to her for a couple hours Steve pulled up in his pickup truck. He stumbled in the door and glared into the kitchen where Tony was leaning against the counter facing Kevin’s mother. Both of them stared at each other with a look that of dread and shock. Neither Tony nor Kevin’s mother had expected Steve to come home, especially because it was close to three in the morning. She thought he would have spent the night at the Boston motel room his company provided for him. Steve swaggered up to Tony’s face; the smell of alcohol on his breath was overpowering and made Tony shudder.
“What the hell are you doing in my house, talking to my wife?” Steve demanded.
Kevin’s mother interjected, “He was talking to me about school.”
“Shut up! I didn’t ask you!” Steve screamed at her.
“I was talking to her about school,” Tony answered with confidence.
Infuriated at his arrogance, Steve punched Tony in the face, just missing his left eye. Tony swung at him and knocked Steve back, causing him loose his balance. Tony kicked him in the stomach and Steve fell back onto the floor. Before he could get up Tony ran out the door and got into his car. Steve chased him down the driveway but could not catch up as Tony’s Porsche sped away from the house. He was having trouble seeing out of his eye as it started to swell up so he pulled over in the parking lot down the street from Kevin’s house, parking in a dark corner near a bunch of trees at the back of the lot. Just then Tony heard the squealing of tires as a vehicle turned its bright lights upon his car. It was Steve’s truck.
Tony got a rush of adrenaline and put his car into gear. He sped off, sliding the rear end of the car onto the main road and gunned it to the highway. He had a close call with a semi as he cut it off while getting on the ramp for the interstate. Steve’s truck followed in pursuit and kept up surprisingly well.
Tony was low on gas and didn’t want to go too fast but had no choice as Steve’s truck gained on him and tapped his rear bumper. Tony had to steady the car as it lost control momentarily and started to skid. Steve pulled along side him and slammed his truck into Tony’s door causing him to jerk the wheel to the right. The car fishtailed for a few hundred feet until Tony got it back under control right before coming close to hitting the guard rail. Steve had pulled in front of Tony and blocked him from passing. Tony swerved left and right trying to sneak past the large gray truck but could not get around. Finally Tony saw a tractor trailer in the center lane and decided to use it to his advantage; he waited until they both came up behind it and then jerked his car to the left, Steve mimicked the move and blocked Tony on the left of the trailer. Then Tony quickly turned the wheel to the right and slammed on the gas. Steve didn’t have enough time to react and got caught on the other side of the big rig. Tony matched speed with the trailer and lost sight of Steve. With an exit ramp quickly approaching Tony prepared to pull of, unfortunately Steve ended up in front of him again. Steve slammed on his breaks and Tony, caught off guard, could not slow down fast enough and swerved to avoid rear ending the truck. Tony’s brakes locked up and he could not steer. He had no control as his car skidded into the guard rail and bounced off across the highway onto the grassy ditch in the center median. The car spun several times before flipping over as it slid down the embankment and ended up on its roof.
Tony released his sweaty hands from the steering wheel and touched his forehead he felt blood and then he suddenly he blacked out.
A state trooper who had been advised of the car chase was speeding down the highway searching for the two reported vehicles. He noticed some long skid marks that led to a smashed guard rail and zigzagged for several hundred feet more. The trooper put on his spot light as he slowed down in the left lane and followed the skid marks to the ditch where Tony’s smoking Porsche lied turned over. The trooper immediately got out of his cruiser and called for a rescue and a fire truck. Sprinting down the embankment he looked for anyone inside the wreck. He spotted Tony pinned inside the car and shone his flashlight on the unconscious driver. Several minutes later the fire and rescue pulled up alongside the median. One of the firefighters tried to extract Tony from the car but could not do it alone. He had to cut off the crumpled door of the Porsche to pull Tony’s body out. He was then rushed to the nearby hospital and put into the trauma unit. Tony received twenty five stitches on his head and had a broken arm and three fractured lower ribs. Luckily there was no internal bleeding or rupturing of organs.
Meanwhile Steve sped up the highway en route to Boston in a rage. He was weaving his goliath truck through the thick traffic just outside the city; recklessly passing people, and furiously gesturing at innocent slow pokes that were too busy chatting on their cell phones to notice his high beams flashing; instructing them move out of his way. Once into the city Steve meandered his way through out the cold dark streets. After about a half hour of city driving he parked his truck in front of a green and yellow three story house. There were spot lights that flashed on as he walked with in the range of their motions detectors. The lights illuminated the barred windows and chipping paint on the façade of the ghetto crib. The front yard consisted of two 5′ x 5′ patches of dirt with little tufts of dead grass poking up and a cracked concrete path leading up to the creaky wooden stairs.
Steve rang the door bell and waited until a short dark skinned young lady in a bath robe answered the door. She opened the door just a crack to see who it was, the chain that locked the door preventing any further opening. “Eva, it’s me,” Steve said, his breath still smelling of alcohol.
She asked in an aggravated Spanish accent, “Yea, I know it’s you. What do you want?”
“I need a place to stay for the night, I, I,” he stuttered, “I just got into a fight with ‘The Bitch’ again, she kicked me out,” he replied in an exasperated voice. “So can I come in? It’s pretty cold out here ya know.”
“Yea, come on in I guess,” she said reluctantly.
Steve walked into the dark narrow hall and followed Eva up to the second floor of the house to her apartment. Her living room was small; just a brown love seat and an old recliner which her roommate was asleep in filled the room. The furniture faced an old big screen TV that was tucked into the corner. The old lime green carpet was covered in cat hair and the room stunk of urine and cigarettes.
“You can have a seat on the couch while I get dressed. Jakki is asleep, so be quiet,” Eva whispered, gesturing toward her significantly over weight and butch looking roommate, “she smoked too much ganja tonight I guess.”
Steve laughed briefly and took a seat, fixing his gaze on the fat cat sitting a top the TV. He took the remote off the end table between the love seat and the recliner and changed the channel to ESPN. A few minutes later Eva poked her head into the living room and told Steve to come into her room.
Eva’s room was equally as small as the living room but was a cleaner and didn’t smell like cat piss. There were some scented candles burning by the window and some soft music playing in the background. She told Steve to lie face down on the bed so she could give him a massage. She took some scented oil from her dresser and rubbed some on her hands, and then began to gently work Steve’s tense back muscles.
The following morning Steve got up and left Eva’s. Sunday morning traffic in Boston was light compared to the previous nights. He drove back to his house and pulled into the driveway just as his wife was backing her Volvo out of the garage, presumably going to church. Once they stop giving out free wine at mass she won’t be going for sure, Steve thought as he waved to his unresponsive wife. He walked into the house once he parked and picked up the paper off the front porch.
Steve went up to his bed room and changed out of his clothes. He took a quick shower and went back down stairs to the kitchen to fix him self some breakfast. He called for the kids to come to breakfast but they were still asleep. Steve took his plate of sausage and eggs and plopped himself in front of the tube, turning on ESPN.
The police had arrived at the hospital in the afternoon, and waited to question Tony once he regained consciousness. He woke up to the doctor’s relief around two in the afternoon on Sunday. “Anthony, Anthony,” the nurse said to him, noticing his previously static eyes begin to flutter open. The nurse looked toward the doctor in the room, “I think he’s coming around,” she said.
The doctor went to Tony’s side and tried to speak to him, “Anthony, you are in Memorial hospital in Attleboro Massachusetts. You were in a car accident but are okay now.” The doctor backed away and gave Tony time to respond. His eyes opened suddenly and he began to move his lips to speak. He cleared his throat and asked the doctor what day it was. The doctor replied, “Sunday, today is Sunday, December 20, 2002.”
Several hours passed and a police officer came into Tony’s hospital room. Tony was eating his fine hospital style dinner of roast beef and whipped potatoes with a chincy side of delectable gravy and cranberry sauce. The cop sat down and introduced himself and began asking Tony all about the previous night and about Steve. He recanted the events he could remember to the cop and asked if they found Steve.
The officer said they had no way of finding him because of the lack of witnesses.
Once Tony provided the police officer with all the information they needed to apprehend Steve the cop left. Tony sat upright in the hospital bed and watched an old movie on the TV hung from the ceiling in front of him. Around eight in the evening there was a soft knock on the door. “Come in,” he said.
“Anthony, my god, are you all right?” his mother said in a surprised and concerned voice as she burst in the room. His father and younger brother followed her and took a seat by the window while his mother went to give him a big hug. Tony cringed in pain as his mother squeezed him in her powerful embrace.
“I’m fine mom, just shaken up. What took you so long to get here?” he asked.
“Well your father was speaking to the police. They came over the house once they left here. So they held us up asking all their stupid questions.”
“Oh I see, well that’s okay, at least you came to see me.”
“Well of course. So tell me what happened,” she asked him.
Tony sighed and began to tell the story yet again. After he was done his parents left and went to speak to the nurse, asking her when he would be released and what kind of injuries he sustained. The nurse told them that he would be released by tomorrow morning and that he should take it easy for the next week. The injuries were not bad but still needed to be given time to heal properly.
Early the next morning Tony’s father came to the hospital to pick him up. During the short ride home his father told him that the family had decided to press charges on Steve and his family. Tony really wasn’t surprised at this decision and asked his father if he had called their family lawyer. His father said he was going to take care of everything on Monday. Upon arriving at his son’s house he instructed Tony to stop by the house on Monday where they would decide what to do about the situation.
Later on that night Tony was watching a movie in his room. His cell phone rang suddenly, it was Kevin. “Hey buddy, what’s up?”
“Not much dude, listen I have to ask you to do me a favor–“
“Yea sure, what do you need?”
“Well I just need you to let my sister stay the night; she wanted me to ask you because she doesn’t want to stay here tonight.”
“Okay,” Tony said in an inquisitive tone, “why does she need to do that?”
“Well it’s a long story but basically my mom and dad had a big fight, she left and Jess doesn’t feel safe being around dad.”
“Oh I see,” Tony said. “Well tell her it’s all right to come over. I don’t mind, just make sure she doesn’t come too late, I have to get up early to take care of some business.”
“Oh really; what’s going on tomorrow?” Kevin asked him.
“Well I’ll just give you a general synopsis; Saturday night your father came by after you went to bed. I was talking to your mother and he stormed in the house. He started a fight with me because he was drunk and probably thought I was having an affair with her or something. So anyways he hit me and I hit back. I ran to my car and sped off after I thought I knocked him out. Turns out he followed me and we got into a crazy car chase on I-295.
“He started to hit me with his truck and ended up causing me to flip over. I went to the hospital, yada, yada, yada, and now I’m fine.” Tony continued on telling Kevin about what was going to happen and conversed for almost an hour before hanging up.
It was close to one in the morning until he got off the phone. Tony went down stairs to the living room and waited up for Jess.
Rubblebucket, Millionyoung, and Com Truise @ Le Poisson Rouge
Greenwich Village, NY
Red Fish IPA
New York City is a ready-made home for music lovers looking to experience something new. Their scene is so eclectic, and yet it gives every band and artist a place to peacock. Greenwich Village is one of those places, a hotspot for music, and it’s there my notes began.
My bus from Boston dropped me off in the heart of Chinatown, and I waited, leaning on a newspaper kiosk at the corner of Canal and Bowery, scanning the countless passing faces for my friend, Lapre, to meet me after work. He, like me, wouldn’t pass up a show like this.
Le Poisson Rouge (The Red Fish) is a great venue. It looks like a nightclub, and its basement feels like a trendy jazz club. The tables were cleared out for standing room only, and yet, having arrived there when the doors opened, we dropped our gear at a standing bar table near the VIP lounge, and began to marinade on Red Fish IPA and colorful lights blanketing a slowly-growing audience.
The show started for Com Truise, and the club was quarter full. I could tell right off (but was surprised) that he was the opening act. I’m familiar with his work, and recognize it as the night begins. He breaks into something new that flows with his style of heavy percussion and synth waves. This is future electronic music. He improvises on the machines, even though it is an orchestrated piece. Lapre compares it to a modem and a drum, and I laugh.
He grooves to his own music as he plays on stage, and on occasion he looks back at the wall, covered with visualizations. A song plays with reverberating alarms, and dissipates to a rolling thunder of applause. A set of hieroglyphs flash on the massive screen, and I try to grasp what they mean. A sun rises over a polygon mountain. A pair of Italian women talk under the music at a table in front of us, smiling and laughing with big Italian smiles.
I’ve heard this one before. He is in his groove now, and more people have filled the club. A couple people dance by themselves as the heavy song and vibrant visuals coat us listeners in an odd, electronic fog. I seldom consider how prepared these guys are, especially when they run into something at 150BPM and they tap-tap-tap away on music machines, turning knobs and blending track after track. He made it look easy.
A quick intermission allowed me to meet Com Truise after the show and simply thank him for the great show. He was chatting with a couple that met him before I did, so there was an awkward standby moment in front of them as I waited for my chance to interrupt. “Hey man, great show, I’m glad I came out for it.” He was happy to hear it, thanked me, and we shook hands before I made my way back into the club. The next act, Millionyoung, was setting up, and it was only 10pm. I ordered another Red Fish IPA.
Millionyoung was a discovery that resonated with me ever after. They explode from the start in bursts of electro indie flavors comparable to Animal Collective. They open with a track that reverbs harmonic vocals and melodic, beat-infused guitar rock. There is an atmospheric quality in the results, something apt for beach-side parties. They certainly know how to get a crowd moving and cheering. There is energy brewing in their music, and it bubbles over in vocals sweetened by reverberating delays. They use it well, and my head bangs.
If Cut Copy heard this last song, they’d probably go along with the groove. Their sequences of synth, pop, and rock highlight an ambient quality in their vocals. A lady sits alone between us and the Italians, drinking a glass of Vodka neat, and she bobs her head to the beat. The band comes together in a cavalcade of sounds, and despite the odd delay, the vocals really make it great.
We applauded as they collected their things and left the stage. I found them after the show and talked with them briefly, mentioning I traveled from Boston to see the show. They were flattered, and I gave them my card in case there was a chance to see them play in Boston. I had no idea they were playing the following night at Brighton Music Hall, but it wouldn’t have been the same kind of show. I shook their hands and thanked them for the great show, and made my way back into the club. Another Red Fish IPA, and I sit in wait for the final act of the night.
The club was full as Rubblebucket took to the stage. They completely blew the top off any preconception I had. They explore the space around us with harmonic energy. The horns and natural melody in their music bring everything together in a funky groove. They’re beats are uplifting, juxtaposed against afro-like themes and eye-closing harmonies. The crowd was clapping and jamming along, and so was I. The Italians left their table to join the dancing masses, and the lady alone grooves even harder than before in the barstool in front of us. Someone threw a bra on-stage, and everyone was chanting “Happy Holidays!” between songs. The trumpet player did a stage-dive, and everyone was loving it.
I want to know what this song is; it has a happy groove to it, slow but in step with a confident satisfaction. I smile as the vocals take on a jazzy instrumentation, ushering in a breakdown revival of ska and funk. The singer has a great voice that reminds me of Bjork and Sister Nancy. Her melody inspires a state of jam that feels like it could go on for much longer. Thankfully, I think I found the right track, and posted a video for it below.
The show was over late, and Lapre and I were well-off with our drinks before the night came to a close. He had to get up in a few hours to go to work in Manhattan, and yet that didn’t seem to bother him. In the closing notes of the night, I remember the long train ride home, and the pit stop for munchies, handing over my few remaining dollars to impatient ethic men wearing uniforms and hats.
Sitting at Lapre’s kitchen counter, we ate snails from their shells and chased them with sweets, while sipping Glenmorangie scotch and rehashing the night’s encounters. I told Lapre about my conversations with the artists I talked to, and he helped me conceptualize the sounds we heard in words that made sense – it’s a hard thing to do when you’ve never heard music like this before. I only hope for your sake, you get what I mean.
Tony and Luis were sitting in the basement of the house with $20,000 worth of Colombian cocaine ready to be packaged when Tony’s cell phone rang; it was his friend Kevin on the other line. Tony answered, “Hey, what’s up buddy, what’s goin’ on?”
“Hey, nothin’ much,” he replied, “we have to get to Twin Oaks in like an hour, have you left yet?”
“Nah, I just got caught up in helping Luis. I should be there in about 20 minutes though. I’ll leave right now.”
Kevin warned him, “All right, but you better hurry, we can’t be late again.”
“Yea don’t worry about it, you know me… I’m always on time,” he said reassuringly and hung up. Tony looked at Luis, who was measuring out one-gram amounts of white powder and placing them in little baggies, “hey listen buddy, I gotta go pick Kevin up for work,” he said to him. “We’ll get back at the usual time so be ready when we get back so we are not late.”
“All right, no problem. I’ll just be waiting outside in the truck when you come by,” Luis replied.
Tony walked out the door toward his bright red Porsche 911 Carrera 4, a gift from his father for high school graduation. He got in the car and threw his gym bag with a change of clothes in the back seat and started up the engine. Deciding to show off to some girls across the street, he revved the engine and spun the rear tires of the car so as to make a lot of tire smoke and left two fat skid marks on the pavement. The three girls didn’t appear to be that impressed at all with Tony’s showing off and glared at him with disapproval. He disregarded the girls’ admonishment and sped off to pick up Kevin.
Tony arrived at Kevin’s around 5:30 and stopped in the house for a bit. Kevin’s mother was sitting in the living room watching a re-run of Martha Stewart and munching on a sandwich, “Hi Tony,” she said, not even looking away from the TV. “Kevin is down in his room and will be up shortly, go and make your self something to eat in the kitchen while you wait, okay.”
Tony smiled, “Ok, thanks.” and went to have a bowl of cereal.
Kevin came upstairs into the kitchen a few minutes later. “Hey what’s up buddy?”
Tony slurped up the milk in his now empty bowl of Cheerios, “nothing much dude. Y’all set to go?
“Yea, let’s move.” And they both left the house and hopped into Tony’s Porsche.
After a short five-minute drive down route 1 they pulled up to the large 5 story brick Twin Oaks Nursing Home just in time to punch in for 6:00 pm.
“Oh lord, I wonder what they are gonna have me do today?” Tony asked as he stretched and yawned.
“Well it’ll probably be better then scrubbing pots down in the kitchen for 4 hours,” Kevin replied in a bewildered tone as he waited for the elevator to come up.
Tony’s boss, an old nun named Sr. Gertrude, came down the long dark hallway to meet him and give him his assignment for the evening.
“Anthony, I’m going to have you go upstairs to the fifth floor tonight and keep Mrs. O’Connor company. She is a very nice woman; I think you will enjoy each other’s company. You can find her in room number… 505 I think, her name will be on the door in case I am mistaken,” the little nun said softly.
“Okay sister, I’m sure we will have fun. I’ll see you when I’m done.”
“Very good Mr. Verdarelli. Hurry now; don’t keep Mrs. O’Connor waiting.”
“Yes ma’am,” Tony said as he got into the elevator with Kevin.
“So what’d you doin’ tonight?” Kevin asked him when the doors shut.
“Ah, just seeing some old bag on the fifth floor… should be a great time.”
“Sounds like fun; I’ll meet you by the car when I’m out all right,” Kevin said as the elevator stopped at the kitchen.
“All right kid, have fun down here, peace.” And the elevator doors closed. Tony thought about the last person he had to keep company on the fifth floor. It was this blind Russian lady who could not stop talking about how she thought she could see angles and talk to her dead cat named Fluffy. Four hours of that was just too much for one person to handle so he just left periodically to talk to Kristy, a young and attractive nurse down the hall.
The elevator doors opened on the fifth floor and Kristy, who worked there every night, noticed a fat lady in a wheelchair plus an equally large nurse blindly moved in to cram the minuscule elevator as Tony barely made it out with his life. Kristy and Tony briefly exchanged smiles and then he walked down the hallway to room 505.
Tony knocked on Mrs. O’Connor’s door, “Hello, Mrs. O’Connor?”
“Yes, who is it?” a woman with a strong Irish accent answered.
“Good evening ma’am, my name is Tony. Sr. Gertrude sent me to come see you tonight, may I come in?”
“Oh why yes, of course; come right in,” she replied.
Mrs. O’Connor was in her late 80’s and had come over to the United States from Northern Ireland only a few years ago. She came to live with her son who lived in Boston in order to escape the fighting going on but she got sick soon after moving over here and had to be put in a home. Despite being lonely most of the time she still seemed to be in good spirits. She was happy with her Lifetime channel and her tea. Tony looked around her small room and studied some old pictures of Ireland and her family crest that hung by the only lit table lamp in the room. Her TV was muted and she was listening to some old music that sounded like it was from the 1930’s. Time went faster as they started a conversation about how life was in Ireland and about how things were in the past and soon it was time to leave. On his was back to the elevator Tony talked to Kristy a little more, still trying to convince her to dump her boyfriend and go out with him. After getting shot down again he brushed it off and smiled while walking away toward the elevator’s open doors. He then went to the locker room to go and change into some different clothes and met up with Kevin.
After work they drove to their house in Providence to meet up with Luis. They had VIP passes for Club Xtacy that night and there was a special performance being put on by “dj PHAT Joe” out of London so they didn’t want to be late. Luis was waiting in his shiny black Escalade. The light from the Porsche’s headlights twinkled on the Caddy’s polished rims as Tony pulled up next to Luis.
“Hey are we gonna take two cars or just yours?”
“We’ll take my ride,” Luis responded, “go ahead and pull around back, the garage is open.”
Tony parked and got in Luis’ truck with Kevin. It was 10:45 and the show began at 11 so they sped down the highway into downtown Providence. Luckily the majority of the traffic had dissipated by the time they arrived in the heart of the city. Indeed most of the people who normally would have clogged the streets in their cars were coagulating in front of Xtacy. At least 1,000 people were crowded in the street. The police had the whole block closed off and were riding on horseback to keep the crowd in order. Luis showed his VIP pass to one of the police officers and was allowed to drive through the crowd to the front of the massive club. The trademark red neon “X” stretched vertically 4 stories to the top of the building, casting a red glow on Tony and his crew as they exited their vehicle parked in front of the club.
Velvet ropes parted as VIP passes were flashed and the trio became immersed in the ocean of pounding bass and beautiful people. Multi colored lasers lit up the inside of the expansive club as they penetrated the smoke that filled the main room, and rhythmically pulsated to the beat of the overpowering music of the sound system. They walked up to the main bar and paused to watch two girls, almost nude, dancing suggestively with each other on the elevated mini stage in the center of the circular bar. Tony ordered three shots of Bacardi Limón and gave one to Luis and one to Kevin.
“I want to make a toast to the success of our business over these past four years gentlemen,” Tony said as he raised his shot glass.
“Cheers,” they all responded and took down their shots.
After having a drink they went to their reserved section toward the back of the club. It took several minutes to plow through the sweaty mass of people already inside the club and on the dance floor. Two bouncers stood at the entrance to the roped off section and checked their VIP passes in order let them through. Once inside the private lounge they closed the purple curtains to the room and looked for any cameras or false mirrors. When the coast was clear they sat down on leather easy chairs around a table with a chilled bottle of champagne sitting in an ice bucket.
Kevin helped himself to some bubbly while Tony and Luis went for the nose candy.
“All right kid, you know what time it is,” Tony said while rubbing his hands together in anticipation.
“Yea, hold on.” Luis took out a slim silver case and placed it on the table. He opened it up to reveal a small amount of white powder wrapped in plastic wrap. He took out the little package to reveal a small spoon and a razor blade resting on top of a mirror.
“Nice dude, nice. How much this time?”
“Just fifty I think.”
“Sounds about right,” Tony said, handing Luis a rolled up fifty dollar bill.
Luis cut up a nice line and snorted it up with vigor. “Here ya go,” Luis said, wiping his nose clean. Tony did two lines and passed it back to Luis. He wiped off his nose and took down a half glass of champagne as Luis snorted the last bit off the mirror and put everything back into the case.
“Some good shit right there kid,” Tony said, leaning back in his chair with his hands clasped together behind his head. Almost instantly the drug kicked in and a cocaine induced rush of self-confidence whisked Tony and Luis to the dance floor to find some girls. For a at least and hour they were grinding with any female with in sight, periodically returning to their VIP booth to do another line or to get a blow job from the girls they had brought back with them. Kevin was enjoying his champagne quietly during all of this but still managed to get a lap dance (a complimentary service of the club for VIP members) from some German girl named Nadine; he managed to see more of Nadine later that night after she got off her shift at the club.
Club Xtacy was not a strip club, but it sure seemed like it tonight. The guest DJ had girls getting up on the stage in front of his booth; making out and taking one another’s clothes off for free drinks and CD’s. Tony managed to push through the crowd of horny men gathered around the stage and got one of the girls to come back to the VIP with him by flashing his pass to one of them and motioned his hand in a come here fashion. Surprisingly Tony didn’t see Kevin when he returned to the booth and figured he must be off on the dance floor somewhere. He closed the curtains to the entrance once again and took out some more coke that Luis had given to him, placing the baggy on the table. Then he moved toward the girl, whose name was Stacy, and slowly pulled off her shirt and told her to lie down on the couch in the back of the room. Almost obediently she did as he told and sprawled out as instructed. Tony walked over to her and placed a small amount of snow-white powder on her naked torso. Meticulously he formed a single line of coke that stopped just inches from her navel and snorted the line and then proceeded to kiss her the rest of the way down. Luis and Kevin conveniently burst into the room just a few moments before things between Tony and Stacy got too intimate.
“Hey dude you should have seen this kid,” Luis said with his arm around the totally drunk Kevin. “He was dancing with these two girls on by the bar and then all of a sudden this big black dude comes up and taps him on the shoulder and says, ‘those girls are with me cracka, get the fuck off!’ and then Kevin just ran like a little girl, all scared and shit. Dude it was the funniest thing!
“So anyways the black guy is trying to find us and the club is clearing out so we better bounce, okay.”
“Shit son, can’t you see I was in the middle of something!” Tony replied in a frustrated but somewhat understanding tone.
“Oh yea, I bet you were about to get in the middle of something, if you know what I mean,” Kevin said jokingly.
“Yea, well… I know, god damn it, you guys have the best timing you know that,” Tony shot back. “All right lets get out of here.” He gave Stacy a kiss on the cheek, “Thanks babe, call me sometime all right.” And he left with his friends.
Upon leaving Kevin caught up with Nadine, who was waiting for him at the coat check. She walked him to the back of the club where her car was parked outside. “Get in,” she said, “we’ll go to my place… oh and this one won’t cost you anything either.” The drunken Kevin obediently sat in the passenger seat and they drove a few blocks to the Renatta apartment high-rise. They went up to her room on the twelfth floor and wasted no time getting to their nightly activities. After an hour of getting down they decided that they needed some food. Kevin called Tony on the cell and arranged to meet them at Denny’s where he was already waiting with Luis.
The cold night air was a refreshing feeling as Tony and Luis left the intense heat of the club. Sweat from their forehead dried up once the frigid air hit their faces as they walked down the streets. There were taxis parked all down the street waiting for the other clubbers who needed a ride after parting too much. Car horns were blaring because a car stalled in the middle of the busy street. Hundreds of people were pouring out of the clubs and bars, all inebriated from a night of fun. Police on horse back were riding in pairs down the main street in front of the brightly lit theater, and the hypnotizing sound of the horse’s hooves clip clopping down the cobble stone streets of Providence. All the sounds around of the city were stifled and seemed muted to Tony and Luis. Their ears had been punished for hours by the thumping and unrelenting bass of the sound system in the club.
“Hey we’re going to Denny’s, right?” Tony asked.
“Is that you wanna go?”
“Yea, definitely. It’s the one in Warwick, like fifteen minuets from here; but it will take at least an hour to get through this traffic.”
Luis retrieved his SUV from the valet and made his way out of the city. An hour had passed and Tony and Luis had finally pulled in to Denny’s parking lot. Kevin called just as they left the vehicle and arranged to meet them with Nadine at the diner.
Tony burst through the double doors, “Cassie!” he yelled. Cassie was a waitress there who had known him for some time. They went to high school together and even dated for some time before they broke up. She cheated on Tony with another guy from school and ended up getting pregnant as a result. After that they lost touch shortly after Cassie dropped out of school. Several years later they met again through a friend of his who had re-introduced them while eating late at Denny’s. Tony felt bad for her after he had heard what her life had become after she dropped out and decided to be friends with her once again.
“Hey guys… back from another night clubbin’?” she asked from across the counter.
“Oh hell ya babe, just had a great time.”
“Good to hear,” she said as she grabbed three menus from under the counter, “follow me boys, I’ll give you the best seats in the house tonight.”
Twenty minutes later Kevin walked in with a tall brunette, presumably Nadine and found Tony’s booth. Kevin was still pretty drunk but at least could walk straight at this point. Nadine had a strong German accent and told them all about how she was only 18 years old and had just come to America as an exchange student. She was studying culinary arts at JWU in Providence and was also a dancer. She did not work at the club because she needed extra money but just because she loved to dance (all of which the guys didn’t buy for one second).
After they finished their late night munchies Tony sat and chatted with Cassie while Kevin sat in the SUV with Luis, telling him about his time with Nadine. Nadine went home and left her number with Kevin; but he threw it in the trash on the way out the door. Tony finished up with Cassie and they also exchanged numbers so they could keep in touch.
Luis drove them back to their house in Providence once Tony joined them in the SUV and they all slept until late in the afternoon on Saturday. When they pulled them selves out of bed they had to do some major cleaning before they left for the weekend. Luis was going up to visit his girlfriend in Boston and Kevin had work on Sunday night so he was going home. Tony was Kevin’s ride home because his car was in the shop and wouldn’t be ready until Monday so they left for North Attleboro once the cleaning was finished.
It was dark by the time they reached Kevin’s house and both of them walked up the dark driveway toward the quaint house. Suddenly, a man yelling, and glass breaking shattered the silence and Kevin’s father stormed out of the house, slamming the door and got into his truck and sped off. Kevin and Tony were both tired and didn’t really want to deal with what ever was happening but never the less they ran toward the house, stunned and intrigued to find out what had just happened. The two opened the door and looked around the dimly lit kitchen. Kevin’s mother was face down on the kitchen table crying, a half empty bottle of vodka at her side. By her feet was a broken highball glass with vodka and ice spilt on the floor. Kevin noticed a broken beer bottle and several empty beer cans on the counter amidst a mess of dirty dishes and more broken glass. His mother, still crying put her head up to reveal a large cut on her cheek. There were dried tears and smudged mascara all mingled together underneath her eyes. A bruise was starting to form where she had been cut with a broken bottle.
The emaciated, red headed woman tried to speak, but only burst into uncontrollable tears and walked over to her bewildered son. She put her head on his shoulder as they embraced one another.
. . .
to be continued
Here I finally am
… sitting in a windowless room six stories above a downtown parking lot, in a room full of red eyes, loosed ties and security guards all dressed in black. I am poised not to unleash my emotions as the woman calmly speaks to me, she is silently begging me to maintain my composure probably because many before me did not.
I hate the feeling of being in a pivotal moment and not being able to ask the right questions. This is my opportunity to make a bold and enduring statement that will change the minds of many.
I took the liberty of pouring my self a glass of scotch, took a long sip while holding my eyes to hers. Upon raising my empty glass in front of the calm woman I gently told her to cut to the chase, give me my belongings and send me on my way. I wanted this to be quick and painless.
Her response was delivered mechanically, undoubtedly from saying the same words to others like me all day long. She conveyed a disconnected pity with her eyes, gesticulating gently while holding my gaze. Yes, it was her gentility which I admired most. Someone younger would have conveyed the wrong impression; she was more like a mother sending her child out on his first day of school. Her words went over my head.
I really admired her, though I must say again, that admiration was partially based in pity.
After collecting my belongings from the security guard I walked outside onto the sidewalk. It was dark, blustery, cold and raining – perfect really, I thought as I walked through the streets. I wrote goodbye emails as I waited for my train and made a few phone calls effectively ending a stage of my life.
Wow… back to square one.
I had the day to my self. Finally some time alone to do what I wanted after weeks and weeks of catering to others. It is mid Autumn in Manhattan. Back in Boston it had been unusually warm, not so down here. I had most of the afternoon ahead of me after a quick coffee with a few colleagues in the city, the friend I was going to meet for dinner had to work late, so there I was with a good eight hours to kill. I went to Bryant park; the last time I was in the city with time to spare that is where I went, I ended up meeting with a dead end recruiter in the Chrysler building shortly after that, so who knows where this moment of pause in the park would bring me. I wanted Indian food, and of course, being only a few blocks from the tourist traps of the city, every place I looked at was either packed or over priced. I looked online to see where the closest subway was and then saw where that subway would take me; I could go uptown towards Central Park, have some food and then have a cigar (I brought one because I knew I would have time to enjoy it), or I could go downtown to SoHo and Greenwich Village. I opted for the later. I got off at Washington Square and started walking towards the Indian restaurant I picked out in the West Village. I really didn’t want to go into Greenwich Village because of the bad memories of my last time there over the summer, so that guided me towards the Hudson. While I walked I happened to come across this little Mexican restaurant that looked perfect to relax for a few hours and have some tasty food. Just as I hoped the place was empty and it was warm, those were the two requirements I had.
Like I mentioned earlier, the weather in Manhattan was pretty different than Boston’s the day before, it was actually seasonal so I can’t complain, all I can say is that I was sorely mistaken for not wearing a jacket. I had a pretty good burrito at the Mexican place; the ground beef was just spicy enough to warm me up and the guacamole, lettuce, tomatoes cooled my tongue when things got too hot. I wanted a beer, but they wanted too much for one, so I got coffee. The coffee was fantastic; almost like Turkish coffee there was a pleasant sweet aroma and a hint of cane sugar and caramel that worked my palate
like a crisp sauvingon blanc would after having brie and apple in a puff pastry – if that means nothing to you then I highly suggest you try it right now! Anyway, this is not a restaurant review, but this would be an otherwise unsavory account of an ordinary afternoon if I didn’t include the above. After gorging on Mexican goodness I needed that cigar and a good walk. I really had only one objective and that was to find a park were I could enjoy that cigar, as luck would have it, Washington Park was only a few blocks away.
It had gotten dark and I saw that the bums had set up camp in on the benches by the entrance I was approaching. I decided to be bold and invade their territory with hopes of not angering the urban homesteaders with my cigar smoke. It was here where I met Alex. About sixty years old, Alex was dressed like your typical hobo; he had the baseball cap, at least one big puffy winter jacket and probably a few layers of pants on. I actually felt envious for once – I was clearly out of my element in my jeans, cotton button down dress shirt with only a thin cotton v-neck sweater, hardly protecting me from the penetrating cold wind that pushed its way through the trees of the park. Alex was sitting in front of a chess board. I loved chess and I had nothing to do for several hours, I asked him if he charged to play. I knew his time had to be worth something. It only cost me a coffee and donut from the Starbucks up the street.
Alex didn’t say much, but he played chess pretty well. I figured he would be about as good at chess as I would be at making macros given that this must have been somewhat of an occupation outside of his cigarette business. He sold a pack for nine bucks, making a small profit margin, especially in New York, but he still undersold the corner stores by a few bucks. His clients tended to be exclusive though, he knew them on a first name basis like any good proprietor and was flexible with the quantity he sold. I liked this guy, he was smart. I guess even the bums in New York have that drive to achieve that I really haven’t seen in other cities. Alex and I played three games. I lost all three. What I learned though was not just a better way to play chess, but I learned something about my self. In chess, just like in life, I like to make the first move. I guess that is the control freak in me, but what it does is open me up to a vulnerability of being taken by someone who waits for me to make the bad move that inevitably comes. This guy exploited that bad move every time just like a sharp trader on Wall Street would make a quick in and out move on an undervalued stock and get out just before the price hits equilibrium and the gains flatten. So Alex just waited. Even when I tried to change up my playing style in the second game he still got me after about twenty moves. He took me after I had every major piece except a rook and a queen and he took me after I totally shifted from a heavy offense to an almost neutral playing style. The key he told me was not strategy, but tactics, and then it made sense; I had a strategy, but he really didn’t play with a strategy, he would not hold himself to a predictable pattern, but he would use a few clever tactics to put me into a position where I was trapped – trapped by my own strategy as it were since that is what he exploited. It would not have mattered if I played defense or offense I think since he was always just a few moves ahead of me. Alex’s favorite piece was the knight, I hate the knight, but I have now come to respect it just like I respect Alex and will be thankful for the lesson he taught me.