Monday, November 28, 2011

Fifty-Boy 31 I Had The Money & Nobody Knew



I Had The Money & Nobody Knew

She scribbled on the Starbucks napkin again and again.

I'm an idiot.

I'm an idiot.


"Why did I ever involve Vivian," she said, then answered herself, "Because I'm an ass. I'm such an ass." I was so nervous. I can't do anything right."

She wanted to cry right there in the crowded Starbucks.
She must have gone over it a thousand times.
I took all new bills.
I thought they were new.
I was afraid to spend them, and I did't know how to get rid of them.
I hid them in Daddy's garage and I was so afriad the whole time the FBI would follow me, and search there, and get Daddy in trouble.
I couldn't even sleep.

So I went to Vivian and she took me back to Blue...
Her coffee sat and got cold.
She filled the entire napkin on both sides with her scribble
and looked out the window at the ocean.

Vivian's explanation about Blue not having that amount of money but knowing someone who did, some slumlord named Meanos, and a detective named Mathers,
and some homeless guy under the Boardwalk,
and the money just walking off cause the cops showed up,
it didn't make sense.

Something was wrong.
Something wasn't adding up somewhere.
Her own sister with that big new house,
and a housekeeper, and the fancy clothes and cars,
that all cost money.

I'm such an ass.
I had the money, and nobody knew.
And now nobody knows where it is?
That doesn't make sense to me.

Why didn't I look?
Why didn't I take my time?
I couldn't believe it when the auditors told me it wasn't new.
I would never have gone to Vivian.
I should've looked more carefully.
I can't believe I didn't look.
I swear they were in Federal Reserve wrappers.
Maybe it's a trap.
Maybe they're trying to fool me.
I can't believe those bills were recirculated.

"What are you thinking about, Mommy?"

"Oh, my baby..." Janice came to herself.
"You, my Adriasita... I'm thinking about you, and Mommy won't give up."
And she started to cry.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fifty-Boy 30 Bank By Phone



Bank By Phone


Detective Jones became famous for unraveling the twisted case of the Right Reverend Hughie LaRue and find his dead lover, Bishop Gene-Joe Hoeh stuffed behind the gilded altar in Atlantic City's historic Saint Ivey Chapel.

She'd stopped to light a candle and caught him in the act.

Reverend LaRue did his best to split her ribs with the same jeweled cross letter opener he'd used on his co-religionist lover.

She never got to light her candle or finish her prayer. She spent the rest of the summer recovering on a blanket on Sumersea Island.

She and Janice Hammer lay on the beach at 26th Street.
They'd become friends after the robbery.
Little Adrian dug a moat around the sand castle Wanamaker built.
The ladies baked in the sun.

The voice of the summer sky was in their ears.
They were useless for anything else.

Wanamaker raised her head from her book and squinted.
"How you end up with a turd like Le-B-B?"

Janice bent her arms back and hooked her bikini top. "How you'd end up with blue eyes?" She smiled and said, "I'm too lazy to turn over and do my front. Is my butt sticking out?"

Wanamkaer laughed. "How'd Vivian end up in a family of Latinos?"

Janice laughed. "Yeah, I wonder that too. She don't even like rice and beans. But what about that name they gave you, Wanamaker, good thing they didn't shop at Dicks."

Wanamaker couldn't stop laughing.

"And this island really named after your family?" Janice said.

"Yeah, or the master who owned us... Understand... That's one I could never figure out." Wanamaker sat up and put on her sunglasses.

Janice said, "He was handsome then. Wan... And fast. I probably did it just as much to spite my father as anything, marry a non-Latino. It would have been bad enough not marrying a Cuban, let alone Le-B-B."

Wanamaker lay down and stretched, her paperback up in front of the sun.

"So," Jan got up on her elbows. "Tell me." She ignored the two young guys staring at her and stretched her bottoms to cover her behind.

Wanamaker said, "You're not going to laugh?"

"Don't tell me. You were born at Wanamaker's Department Store, in Philly."

"By the Eagle," the detective said dryly, "Center Court."

Janice said, "Can I ask you a question... You like like my sister? C'mon, be honest."

"I like her house."

The house downbeach with the stone turret and banana yellow door,
where her Aunt Edzel-Eeebie worked.

Detective Jones eyed it each time she drove by.
She'd cross Jackson Avenue into Atlantic City,
thinking about Vivian,
about the house,
about the robbery at the bank,
how it all fit together,
how Le-B-B might have done it, 
if he was involved.

It was all too smooth.
It had Vivian all over it.

She'd read and re-read Janice's account and thought about it over and over again:

Janice said she arrived at work that day with a bad feeling.
She got a phone call.

"Miss Hammer." The voice was dry, without emotion. "Listen carefully."

Her stomach sank.

"Adrian, your little girl? She's with us. Don't react. Just say you understand."

Mechanically calm she said it. "I understand."

"There's a wire trash basket, orange, at the College entrance road. Say okay."


Gather five hundred thousand, in hundreds... You savvy? Say I do."

"I do." She was trying not to visibly shiver.

"Good. Bag the money. No police. No attention from you remployees. Right?"

She froze.

"Say right, Senora."

She drew in her breath. "Right."

"Put the money in the wire basket and keep going. Go home. Say I understand."

"I understand." She whispered.

"It's ten thirty. If the money's in the basket at ten forty five, no problem. Right?"

"Right." She hoped it was a bad dream.

"When I take the money from the basket, I call my associate, who leaves your kid."

She went over the process in her mind, how to inconspicuously gather the money.

In ten minutes the money was deposited.

She was home.

The did the bank by phone.

She told the same thing to Wanamaker.
She told the same thing to the FBI.
She rehearsed the script. She knew it by heart.
Adrian wasn't there when she got home.
Adrian had been at the daycare the whole time.
She cried and told them, "I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot."

Friday, November 25, 2011

Fifty-Boy 29 All The Same Woman



All The Same Woman

"Tell me something, pretty senorita, amigo to amigo, we understand, life's life, people got to make a living, and it's nobody's business. I respect that, but how the hell that orange wire trash can gonna' get from out front of Robert's Bar in Margate , all the way the hell out to Stockton College? Now wouldn't you think someboyd be asking that?"

"At least."

"Thank you."

Something told her not to tell him, let it got for now. If he knew she panicked and took new sequential bills, maybe he wouldn't think she was so cool, maybe he wouldn't help her. But five hundred thousand just sitting in the garage of her father, Francisco Diaz, wasn't doing anybody any good. She needed to talk to Vivian.

"Well, I guess you alright. Okay then. Let's take care of this other business. Talk to me about Le-B-B."

Her eyes went cold and stayed that way the entire time she talked about Le-B-B.

When she finished Blue was quiet. The reggae music slowed to a pulse. Then he said, "Makes me mad. I had an Aunt down south, my Aunt Eee, my mother's sister, up here now keeping house for your sister. Did me a favor, Vivian, Aunt Edzel didn't need to be taking that shit,, no woman should... Had to take her sorry man's ass out."


"Edzel is Eee, Eeebie." Blue siled. "All the same woman."

"They named her after a car?" Janice said.

"Had a thing for cars. Was that or Studebaker." He smile again. "Daughter named Edzel too, another pain in the ass cousin of mine. Call her Eeebie Junior."

Janice said, "Okay," and handed him a packet of one hundred hundred-dollar bills.

He took the money and said, "I despise useless men.

She unfolded her legs.

He poured more ice tea and turned up the reggae.

She moved her upper body to the rhythm.

He said, "So you like Detective Jones?"

She said, "Compared to the FBI."

"You trust her?"

"Compared to the FBI... She really your cousin?"

Blue just nodded.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fifty-Boy 28 Like Mendel's Peas



Like Mendel's Peas

Blue had a place on the bottom floor at the back of the Royal Fox Hunt Hotel.
Raucous dance hall reggae had the window screens reverberating.
The curtains billowed like a sail.
He offered Janice something to smoke.
She said no thanks and sat back and looked around at the bamboo-rattan motif.

The royal blue muscle shirt stretched over his chest worked for him.
He wore charcoal gray pleated pants,
soft gray calf leather shoes, no socks,
his eyes were pale blue, his face was placid,
she remembered Wanamaker told her blue eyes
were distributed throughtout the family like Mendel's peas,
said he was her Aunt Blossom's boy.

Aunt Blossom who married a man named James Blue.
They had one child before they were killed.
They named him Major.

Wanamaker told Janice she saw Blue occasionally in the street.
They knew each other, but rarely spoke.
They'd grown up together at church picnics and family reunions
down south at their Aunt Edzel's place in the country.

Aside from Aunt Edzel's daugher, Eeebie, who everybody called Junior,
the one who worked as a stewardess for Spirit Airlines, Wanamaker was the only girl in the family with blue eyes.

There was no denying they were related,
but as far as Blue was concerned, they didn't have much to talk about.
And that was okay with Wanamaker Jones.

Janice Hammer was a petite Latina woman.
The sun had streaked her deep black hair with a soft red patina.
The lime green jumper glowed against her warm brown skin.

He stared at her coral lips.
Her arms were bare.
She had long legs.
Her toenails were the color of pink grapefruit.
She seemed a little uneasy at first.
Some folks might have underestimated her.
Not Blue.

He was slow and easy.
She unwound.
He turned the music dow.
They talked about her sister, Vivian Vivant, and laughed.

He wasn't like Le-B-B at all.
He spoke in a quiet voice.
He looked but didn't eye her.

"Miss Jan, I just made ice tea." He put ice in the glasses.

She accepted.

They spent time talking, politics, family, kids, race relations, money.

Then he said, "I hear you were robbed. That must have been scary."

She told him about it. She could see him picturing every detail.

"I would have been out of my mind. Was your baby okay?"

"She was at the daycare the whole time." Jan leaned forward. "I just assumed."

"Police must have been all over you." Blue sat back and sipped his drink.

"FBI was a pain in the ass, all they managed to do was confirm that there was a phone call, but the local cops, Detective Jones... She was great."

"You know that's my cousin."

"Vivian told me."

"What about that orange wire basket, they mention that?"

The light in her black eyes flittered. "They did, Wanamaker did. Why?"

"Hey." Blue's tone was friend to friend. "I don't know."

Janice wanted to trust him. She needed to tell somebody.

"None of my business." His smile put her at ease.

He put his glass on the wicker end table and looked at his watch.

"You sister says your husbands getting to be a nuisance. Needs to disappear, leave you and the baby in peace."

She didn't want to get to that just yet. She tilted her head and looked at him.

Blue said, "You seem pretty cool. You look like you could handle the pressure."

She shrugged her shoulders. "You lose your composure, you get it back."

She left her sandals on the floor and folded her legs up under her body.

She said, "I probably could handle it."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Fifty-Boy 27 Savvy Vivian



Savvy Vivian

I'm an idiot.

I'm an idiot.

I'm an idiot...

Janice Hammer scribbled on the Starbucks napkin, over and over again and said to herself, "I can't believe I fucked up robbing my own bank," and scribbled,

I'm an idiot...

and said to herself, "Why did I ever involve Vivian?"

I'm an idiot.

I'm an idiot.

I'm an idiot.

It was summer at the Jersey Shore, Janice Hammer was leading the good life on Summersea Island. She had a good job managing a bank off the Garden State Parkway out near Jimmy Leeds Rest Stop.

She had peace in her life.
She had custody of Adrian, her three-year old daughter.
She had plenty of money, direct deposit.
She had banked by phone and her loser husband Le-B-B had finally gotten lost with Duke and the boys in AC.

Wanamaker Jones was a detective with the Atlantic County Task Force;
a dark skinned lady on the broad side, not fat, athletically built, maybe five nine or ten.
She drove an orange BMW 1988 convertible 325i, black heated leather seats,
M20 engine, she just couldn't figure out how to keep the plastic back window from getting hazy, or how a loser like Le-B-B Hammer ended up with a classy Latina wife like Janice. Detective Jones had a particular interest in B-B boy since the bizarre robbery at the bank Janice managed.

Janice wanted to be rid of Le-B-B in the worst way, so she turned to her sister Vivian.
Vivian was savvy.
She knew people from her TV news job.
She introduced Janice to a man three planets away from Summersea Island,
a man who'd grown up in the streets of Atlantic City,
a man Vivian had interviewed during her series on crime in AC.
A man named Major Blue.

"There's only so much you can do with a man." Vivian had it all figured out.

The daughters of Fracisco Diaz lounged in the shade on the veranda of Vivian's new downbeach home. It had a stone turret and a banana yellow door.

Janice had always been a little jealous of her younger sister, Vivian.
Now she felt sorry that Vivian's husband, Loue Vivant, was dead.
She tried to change the subject.
"Vivian, how can you afford la sirvienta, a housekeeper?" She whispered.
"And where did you get the peseta for this place? It's so beautiful."

"Louis had a lot of insurance, Jan. And I only hired Edzel temporarily, as a favor to someone, just 'til she gets settled. Besides, like I need a man? Like you need the bug? You should get rid of him. Does Adrian miss him? Does he ever see his own daughter?"

"Vi, every time I start to do good... It's like he can smell it. Every time Adrian and me are finally starting to have a little peace..."

"Get rid of his ass."

"How, Vi, get with reality, what can I do?"

"Not you, get somebody... Eeebie." She called the housekeeper. "Eeebie, bring some more lemonade, dear. Thanks."

"Who?" Janice said. "Daddy? Daddy needs to call one eight hundred gambler. Daddy is in so much debt to Le-B-B and his friends. Things have to add up, Vi, you watch too much TV."

"You don't watch enough, miss bank manager."

AC Crime Watch At 11pm
"I watch you." Janice didn't want to argue. She wanted to leave.

"Did you see my series on street crime in AC?"

Janice waited for the punch line.

"Did you see my interview with Major Blue?"
Vivian leaned back and grinned.


They were quiet while the older black woman put the tray on the table.

"Thanks, Eeebie." Then Vivian said, "Blue would crush your bug-boy like the roach he is."

"Knowing Le-B-B's story, and his friends? You got to be kidding. You think he'd take a chance like that for somebody he doesn't even know?"

"No," Vivian sipped her lemonade. "But he might do it for you little sister."

"No entiendo." I don't understand, Janice said.

"Habla usted Ingles?" Vivian had always been a bi-lingual wise ass.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fifty-Boy 26 Like No Place I'd Ever Been



Like No Place I'd Ever Been

I saw Bernhardt in the breezeway greeting guests. The parking lot looked clear so I went outside. We started talking and I asked him how hard it was to find a job or housing in the area. I was trying to be cool and not look like I was in a panic.

We were standing under the canopy when an attractive woman in a Mercedes convertible pulled up to the curb. Bernhardt said, "Rota, this is my friend, Jake I've been telling you about. Guess what? He's looking for a job and a place to live, maybe?"

She said, "Really? You think he'll do?" She had the accent too.

Rota was a woman in her early forties, or a little younger, who had that same something going on as Molly when it came to men, that Molly-effect I could never explain...

Just the way her thighs came together where her skirt rode up, the way her feet made her sandals look like wrapping on candy, the casual invitation in her posture, the way her shoulders tilted toward you, the golden hair, the definition in the upper regions of her bare brown arms, her wrists, the golden bracelets, teeth - off the chart white, the mouth, the voice, the avocado eyes...

She had a flight bag on the seat.

I was staring at Rota, Bernhardt was telling me something about paradise...

...Jones, Edzel Eeebie Jones, the name on the flight bag of the wiseass stewardness, the one who called herself Junior, who told me to sit up straight in my seat and wanted a piece of my gum, she must've been a relatiave of Wanamaker Jones. She had the same blue eyes... Major Blue's cousin... That's how they found me. That's why my Philly dodge in Love Park didn't work.

"Jake, "Bernhardt said, his accent a little stronger. "'Dis is my wife, Rota, she who causes turmoil. Odin's favorite Valkyrie."

I said, "Freut mich. Glad to meet you." And I was.

She smiled at her husband and said, "Oh, he speaks German too? Maybe this one won't run away when he sees our little paradise. See if you can get him to come, Bernie."

She went to park the car and Bernhardt asked if I'd seen my big friend from Atlantic City.

I said, "Bernhardt, I ain't gonna' lie to you. He's not my friend. I owe that man five thousand dollars, well, actually his boss. I'd rather not see him."

He looked at me for a minute and said, "I'll take care of it for you. You going for your usual stroll?"


"Where will you be?"

"Frenchy's. I'll walk to Frenchy's."

"Kind of far."

"I'll do me good."

"You gonna' go now?" He nodded toward a pale blue BMW across the lot with Jersey tags.

"They asked me where's Indian Rocks Beach, and asked me to get them an SUV rental about an hour ago."

"An hour ago... Okay... I guess Ich spazsieren gehen."

"I'll bring your bags to Frenchy's. You go for your walk... And stick to English."

I went home with them that night for dinner, just to talk things over. They lived in a place called Eden. I was like no place I'd ever been.

I guess they knew I wasn't going anywhere any time soon.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fifty-Boy 25 Mashed Potatoes Everyday



Mashed Potatoes Everyday

I asked the lady in the gift shop how she liked Florida. I figured by her accent she was from New York. She said it was like eating mashed potatoes everyday.

I told her I liked mashed potatotes.

She said, "Look, hon, can I talk to you?" She was from Park Slope in Brooklyn.

She said, "You been coming in here every day. You're not a wackadoo, you're a nice guy. I like you, and I know you don't know, but I gotta' tell ya' people around here are different from up there. They look kinda funny on people who pay everything in cash... And leave big tips."

"They do?"

"Didn't think of that, did ya'? ...There was a big colored guy in here, all in pale blue, asking about you like you were old friends, from your old neighborhood maybe?"

"Really?" I wondered if she could tell I was shitting myself.

"Melinda, the maid...? She told him you went walking down the beach... Toward Indian Rocks."

"Ho..." Suddenly I couldn't breath. "He was here?"

"'Bout and hour ago, I'd say, him and a short guy the big one called Pauly..."

"Well... thanks."

She said, "So you'll take a walk..."

"Yeah, that's good." I paid for my sandwich. "Thanks again."

She handed me my change and said, "Be careful, doll."

I walked out with my havarti-sprout sandwich, mango yogurt, and spring water, threw the whole thing in the trash and headed for the door. I was getting sick. I guess hotels weren't meant for living in anyway.

Luckily I liked to walk and I always carried the cash with me. I was thinking, Major Blue and Paul Meanos... How the hell did they find me?