» The Benny Poda Years «
Kevin McGowin
Chapter 17 - Tampa, Recollected

Christ in HELL, what a night. Oh, Good God. Merciful fucking parishioners wading over me on a Sunday Morning, but hey, it was really Barry Mauer's fault I got so obliterated, not mine. Lord knows why, but every time I hook up with Barry we start rapping about that Hey Mr. Tambourine Man dude and drinking banana liqueur until finally, at seven o'clock in the morning, we're both rolling off his couch. We tell ourselves every couple of years or so that we're WAY too old for this shit. That's what Mickey Roarke tells Barry, too. Jesus.
        But anyway, I was back in Minneapolis, the best pool-shooting town in America, home of Hey Mr. Tambourine Man, Barry Mauer's daddy, the noted nefrologist, Jen Guthrie, and Zoe Sophia Wilkerson, who I'd narrowly missed in Houston but I didn't go into that, as I really didn't spend much time in Houston in those years. Well, it's been pointed out to me that most of the time I spent in Minneapolis I spent getting fucked up, not playing pool, and point taken, asshole. There are only two other large American cities better suited to sitting around getting fucked up in than Minneapolis, and just which two those are, well, that's for YOU to find out, son.
        She was about as old as an aging Veronica Lake, and she wrote me a letter asking me why the hell I was writing about her in my memoirs. Why the hell did she ask, you're asking? Or maybe it wasn't really she who wrote me, but rather someone who claims to identify with her to some degree, and asked to hear more about her. Someone who's a much finer writer than I imagine was Ms. Wilkerson, and though I have never personally met her if she sees herself as an aging Veronica Lake, well, she's my type of woman and we need to hook up. Damn straight, Zoe.
        Barry was asking me if my memoirs owed anything to the work of Jim Thompson or Raymond Chandler, and I have to admit that Chapters 1 and 15 have their moments. But what me and Barry were REALLY talking about was some time we'd spent in Tampa together during those years, and what a time it was, brother.
        Barry was not afraid to live in an East St. Louis kind of neighborhood, and he fixed up his house like the imaginative man he was—Barry has a lot of class, lots of culture about things like Music and Art. That's why I was digging hanging out with him and talking long into the night, though one summer during those years there came a night, or rather a sequence of them, that were far to the left of sane, due for the most part that his house had been scoped out for burglary by the boyz from the hood. A friend of ours came over one night and said to us, "Are you dudes OBLIVIOUS? Shit, the next thing, the only thing and the LAST thing you're gonna hear if you don't take some Measures here is, 'Mothafucka BOOM'. That's right. Click. 'Mothafucka BOOM'! Get your shit together, folks."
        Well, I guess either we did or Mario Lemieux was looking out for us, because we were alive, as well as can be expected, and back in Minneapolis. But that's not really what I want to talk about, Goldfinger. I want to tell you why I wasn't back in Milwaukee with Sally for the birth of my son.
        Milwaukee, the WHOLE of it, was and is pretty much a dive. And Sally didn't want me there anyway. She started off thinking she was too good for me. Then she found out that I was too good for HER. It's scary to end up being a trashy hoe, I'm sure—'cause if I, if FUCKING I, am too good for YOU, well, you suck. You fucking-A suck, bitch. And if you think you're too good for ME, well, go out there and live a little while. Give it a year or two. Life is a bad Eagles song, but just piss me away and keep singin' Itsy Bitsy Spider to your progeny, and you're telling the bastard JUST what the fuck his life is gonna be like. Do you know the words to that song? It's about this spider who's living the Myth of Sisyphus. And so am I. And so are you. But we'd do well not to make a concerted effort to make matters worse.
        But I was with Barry and I wasn't feeling so swell, which of course was none of HIS fault, though he was a considerate man. But I had other fish to fry, too. I wanted to fight that bastard Luke Primo and I wanted to see Harriet again and I wanted to make my platonic relationships with every bitch under the moon as UN-platonic as possible, and the quicker the better, because this ain't no Allegory of the Cave, and this ain't Miller Time, either. Or should I use the past tense? Well, the world and the fuckwads in it are the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow. Hebrews Chapter 13, Father.
        Julie, you're comin' up. Lizzy, so are you. Baltimore, here we come. Barry, sorry to leave you. The World ends with a Bang and don't you forget it. Calvin Peete. Keith Hernandez. Davey Lopez. Look for it. And hey, Sarah, we're not thru yet. Not by a Battle of Hastings fucking catapult second.
        But let's take a moment and thank the Devil for Barry Mauer and the $67 he gave me to get the fuck off his couch and on the road to the City that should be the Best Place in America to Live, but wasn't. Wasn't then, isn't now. Hear that, Money Magazine? It's Fear, not Forbes, that makes the world go 'round.
        And I didn't even KNOW fear, yet.
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