Category Archives: Sixty-Five Wall Street Novella

Fiction: Sixty-Five Wall Street (Volume 3)

business card

VOLUME III (the final volume)

Session I

Mr. Rockford

What is normal?  Everyone has their own set of problems to worry about, finding the correct way to address this is why we are here today.  On the third floor of 65 Wall Street, a makeshift boardroom type area, complete with a projector and coffee maker is where I’m conducting my class today.  The question I’ve posed to my students is: What is normal?  As I ask the question Yolanda stares blankly, Salvador stares at Yolanda, Champ smiles, and Charlie’s eyes are closed.  Champ appears beaten, as if he believes he peaked at fifteen, the classic high school quarterback still getting smashed in the local bars.  Champ isn’t alone, all are here looking to make a change, they just don’t know it yet.  Each one, beaten down, feeling it can’t get worse. A personal low.  Everyone has their own bottom, one may be much lower than the next and still function, and if you’re Charlie?  Well, then it’s a fine line.  All with their own stories.  What is normal?

Yolanda

To say Jarrod was the love of my life, now that would be a total understatement.  When he admitting to fantasizing about an ex-girlfriend while masturbating it didn’t bother me.  Even when he said the fantasy was when they met and she was only fifteen, I stayed.  He was an underage “jacker”, and here I was, current girlfriend, at his side.  This was three months ago and with the exception of work, I haven’t been able to get out of bed, or stop crying since he left me for my friend Janice, the one who told me Jarrod looked “sleepy” when she first saw him.  I’m not a moron here, I mean “sleepy” turning into “sneaking” around my back are totally two different things.  When I called Mr. Rockford he told me that I had to want to change.  Yesterday, yeah how do I say this, yesterday I got a call from my doctor telling me that I had gotten an STD from Jarrod, the kind that is deadly without major medication.  The good news is that it is treatable, the bad, well my doctor also informed me that I was pregnant and that I will lose the baby with the treatment.  When I asked if there was any way to postpone the treatment he actually laughed and said that not only was that not an option, but that I need to be in his office first thing the next morning, oh, and that I hope you’re not afraid of large needles.  That’s what my doctor said to me.  Sometimes, hmm, sometimes it seems like shit has to hit the fan before you want to make that change.

Salvador

Today is like yesterday, yesterday like the day before that, and the day before that was like any other day of my life, or probably any Guidance Counselor’s life.  Giving kids advice on their future, this is what I do.  Do they ever listen?  Of course not, and why should they?  It’s not like I have a crystal ball.  It’s like Mr. Rockford told me when I signed up for his class, he told me that we all have to make our own decisions to truly enjoy our lives.  If you don’t like what you’re doing, you need to change it, and I would start immediately.  You don’t need a class to figure that out.  Apparently my session with Mr. Rockford had started early because when I got off the phone with him I immediately started writing.  I even called in sick for a couple days.  After four days, I had over thirty minutes of material I was ready to start working on.

Champ

Thirty-five years old and I feel dead.  It’s probably not for the reasons you think.  I have a loving wife and two great kids, teenagers.  I have half a million put away, settlement from a fall I had a few years back, a broken leg, and a construction company proactively settled on.  The leg is healed and I’m relatively healthy.  I mean, c’mon, I’m not eighteen, but I can still do most things, some better as wisdom comes with age.  Maybe it’s boredom, maybe I need to travel.  Not sure.  One thing I know, once I figure it out, I plan to have a story to tell for the rest of my life.

Charlie

Either you love him, or hate him.  I don’t believe there is an in between with Lou Reed.  His music can be depressing, and it’s most definitely gritty.  In apartment #16B Lou plays a lot.  It’s either morning or dusk, hard to say because of the tar paper I’ve put over the windows to block the suits from looking up at me, and not too mention I’m on a three day heroin binge.  It’s been about an hour since I last puked my guts out and I’ve got my needle in hand, ready to walk on water, waste away in Margaritaville, go down to Paradise city.  I put the needle into my arm.  Damn, it’s happening again, been happening for about a week now.  The tears, they start rolling and don’t stop.  For those of you wondering, no, this is not normal.  I’m assuming it means the end is near.  Actually this is what I’m hoping for.  As my eyes close, tears still washing down my cheeks, “Walk on the Wild Side” plays on.

Session II

Mr. Rockford

Follow your bliss.  That’s really what I should call this course, instead of whatever they are calling it this week.  “Get in touch”, “Mask the Pain”, “The Way we Grieve”, are all names that have been assigned in the past.  Always change.  That would be another good name.  What is normal?  Is it what you are told, or is it the way the majority acts out?  How did this happen?  My job is to call it out, simply open up the options to those who feel they have no options.  If you are good at anything, pursue it.  The money chases talent, don’t chase money.  Did I mention always change when possible?  When Charlie opens his eyes I tell him to close them and take on the pain.  He lasts fifteen more minutes before he leaves, but not before I give him one of my cards.  At the end of the session I hand out calling cards, not so much business cards as they are a recap of our time together.  When students ask me for literature, or workbook type materials they get this card.  I tell them, when conflicted, and you are unable to figure out life, then, and only then, use the card.

Yolanda

So there’s this guy I met the other day.  I wasn’t planning on doing anything, but then I remembered what Mr. Rockford said.  Life is a distraction, if you don’t acknowledge this, and make a conscious effort to defeat it.  You lose.  So I approach this guy and I just say fuck it.  Both hungry we decide to grab a bite, and not at some fast food life distraction place, but at a diner where we are able to sit, talk and get to know our surroundings.  Our waitress was a total bitch, the food was terrible, but still it was the best meal I have had in a while.  After we went for a walk and then went back to my place.  We spent a few hours together and I have to say, it is exactly what I needed.  I didn’t even care that his name sounded like a girl’s name.  At least he wasn’t a creep or more important, “sleepy” looking..

Salvador

I’ve got ten minutes of killer material when I walk into The Funny House and ask if I can get a set.  They say there isn’t any room, but that I can go up ten minutes prior to the actual show time.  I agree and convince them to let the crowd in early so they can hear me.  Some of the comedians they meet those waiting, sign autographs, and take pictures.  Me, no one knows me, I’m the newbie, let’s face it I’m a fucking guidance counselor for Christ’s sake.  How do I get the crowd to like me?  I light up a joint and share it with those waiting outside.  A minute before I go on I look down at this business card I got from Mr. Rockford, it only has two words on it.  When the crowd comes in and see me perform, I get a few laughs.  Enough to get a standing nightly gig twice a week.  What a day, oh yeah, I forgot to mention, earlier today, a girl I met in the Rockford class, she comes up to me, we eat and then fuck.  What a day.

Champ

Going from zero pushups to fifty pushups in one day isn’t an easy feat.   Of course it’s a lot easier than twenty minutes of jumping rope, or jogging for forty minutes, and definitely easier than shadow boxing for three rounds.  Tomorrow?  Oh, I’ll be in pretty bad shape, I’m sure.  A week from now, still sore.  Dragging.  In three months I have a five round boxing match scheduled.  It’s amateur, but if I can win three of five fights over the next year I will get a professional boxing match.  Sure, I’ll get my ass kicked, but I finally figured out what the problem was.  I have the family, but that’s not unique.  I’ve gotten tattoos, but I’m not sure showing my grandkids my tats may scare them instead of impress.  Money?  As I mentioned before, I’m good there.  I’m going for it all.  When my grandchildren ask me to tell them a story, I’m going to tell them about the time their grandfather was a professional boxer.

Charlie

Waking up in strange places is normal for me.  I’ve woken up in dumpsters, churches, and office buildings.  Today was a new one when I woke up on the third floor of my building and was greeted by a man named Mr. Rockford.  He invited me to sit and listen so I did for a while, but decided after thirty minutes or so that I should get back to my apartment.  Before I left he talked about pain and chasing your bliss.  When I first started using, I was chasing the bliss, now?  It’s more about the pain that I’m running from.  Looking down on a faded stained coffee table I see a needle and also a card, a business card Mr. Rockford gave me when I left his meeting.  I reach for the card and pick it up, it has two words on it: FUCK IT.


Fiction: Sixty-Five Wall Street (Volume 2)

heroin

VOLUME II

Disclaimer

Many chronicles of addiction feed the reader dark tales of the active addict quickly followed with a delightful account of life “on the other side” filled with tulips and peace of mind.  I promise that my story will contain no hope or sanity. I promise to relay sardonic and tasteless anecdotes that are sometimes nauseous and mildly entertaining. Memoirs written by anyone in their twenties are incredibly vain (unless the author has successfully given himself a full clown makeover I am not interested); filled with self-loathing that penetrates like a small penis.  I promise to be deceitful, deceptive, and dishonest. The past and imagination exist in the same place; arbitrarily it is all bullshit.

BREAKFAST

Inside, another light bulb has burned out, leaving one.  Below my poster of Bob Dylan, the television is on the TV GUIDE channel, playing an advertisement for Pearly Whites toothpaste over and over.  The cockroaches, they are winning.  This apartment is not really mine.  A converted bank, now mixed residential and commercial.  A friend of mine, Cam, left his job, and relocated to California to ride the waves, leaving behind an investment job and an apartment that I’m illegally subletting.  Okay, this isn’t entirely true, subletting would imply I’ve paid rent.

The first time I got high was with Cam.  We smoked a joint and took mushrooms.  So high, all we could do was lock ourselves in my parents house and listen to blues music.

Outside, the vendors line the street.  They all sell coffee, bagels.  Hard-boiled eggs.  The suits purchase their coffee and light their cigarettes.  Everyone needs a boost in the morning.

***

Dope lost its fun the first time I dropped my Twinkie on my pants.  I started shooting up the same time I was prescribed lithium.
The fucking shrink thought a salt would fix me; I put my money on the poppy. Unfortunately, both resulted in my being hooked up to a ventilator in the ICU.

Note to reader:  If at any time you find yourself questioning the dynamic of the author/reader relationship I am attempting to establish, Don’t.  CLARIFICATION: I probably don’t like you.

I like to smoke crack. Being a crack head, Red Hook , Brooklyn is my Vatican City.  Two blocks south
of the only Dominick’s Grocery Store for two square miles is St. Paul’s church. A cinder block compound; decadent in its intended definition.  The pope is a middle aged man named Curtis.  I take communion through a glass pipe in the papal bathroom.  The holy sacrament is a hot commodity in Vatican City, and if I try to commune with the body of Christ in a public forum, the other cardinals try to take it from me.

Note to reader:  Do not buy into the bullshit euphemism “chemical imbalance” to candy coat a loss of touch with reality.  In reality you/I anyone who takes psychotropic medications to “correct” something is fucking crazy.  Deal with it.

LUNCH

A lot of hustle on the streets.  Traders running to the roach coaches for their mid-day chicken sandwiches, fallefel.  Kebobs.  The bagel carts are still their, catering to the many who eat breakfast all day long.  I’m enjoying three slices of cheese when my landlord knocks on the door.  This is the third time today and he is beginning to yell.  I thow a slice of cheese at the door and he leaves.  I get up, pick the cheese off the floor, brushing off a dead fly and finish my lunch.

***

Over the past four years, I’ve found myself in a psychiatric hospital once every three months.  The psychosis is disturbing during the initial visit, but I was desensitized to the madness after trip number two.  I’ve been in “therapeutic communities” with tranquil murals of the seasons painted on the walls and sanitariums with green walls and floors that smell of piss and pine sol. I’ve been committed for multiple offenses: suicide attempts, psychotic breaks, accidental overdoses, and boredom. One time I was committed because I stayed up for about a week, severe partying with a side of cocaine, and I heard a legion of children wearing patent leather shoes running laps around my friend’s roof.  Prior to the horde of sprinting kids, I was playing cops and robbers with his father’s arsenal of loaded pistols.  The Doctors were more interested in the guns than the hyper active kids, but I insisted that the fucking kids were going to fall off the roof.   During certain trips I was violent, others quiet.  I pulled a mirror off the wall and tossed it at some orderlies during one visit.  I was confined into a room with a bed and video camera.  I’ve never seen or been in the cliché “padded room”, although I was once locked in an empty room with nothing but a boxing bag.  I was locked up in a Veterans Psychiatric Hospital for four months.  Vietnam Vets doing the Vicodin shuffle, spilling their colostomy bags on the floor.  I was the youngest resident by twenty years.  My only friend was a syphilitic alcoholic who was admitted to Detox every Sunday night.  They dried him out and he left every Tuesday to start another bender. I nominate him as the most influential man in my life.

DINNER

There are two types of people, carnies and rubes.  My lesson from today, simple and sweet.  A message from an audience member of the Jerry Springer show.

I find a half a cooked pizza in my oven so I eat it.  I don’t know how old it is, I have no one to ask.  At the door, the knocking continues.  My rent is three months overdue, I know this.  The pounding on the door only gives me a headache.  I turn on my stereo, and turn over the one speaker that still works.  I realize that I have never liked a band named after a region.  Alabama, Chicago, and Boston are bands that come to mind.  The phone begins ringing.  However, it’s strange that I do like the bands Ohio Players, New York Dolls, and LA Guns.  They sound like gangs to me.  Another knock at the door.  The phone, it won’t fucking stop ringing.

I decide to quit drinking after I ran out of whiskey on a Thursday night.  My quit lasted from the kitchen to the bathroom. I found some Listerine in the cabinet and dived off the wagon again.

Prescription pills are the most efficient way to catch a buzz.  The only paraphernalia needed is a glass of water.  I found a full bottle of blue pills in my friend’s medicine cabinet prescribed to a Lucy Smith.  I knew his sister was hospitalized for a back injury, and although I didn’t recognize the name of the medication I figured it must be a narcotic.  I swallowed half the bottle. Later, I heard him talking about his sister and he referred to her as Sara.  Lucy was his dog.

Note to reader:  Yes, I have severe liver and kidney damage.  I was told I had the liver of a fifty year old man at age twenty-two.

I woke up in my car one day and found a five lbs. bag of rancid beef and sprouted potatoes in the back seat.

The last thing I remember was popping five Xanax and trying to break my girlfriend out of rehab. I picked a maggot out of the hamburger and smelled it. I called my voice mail and I found out that I apparently passed out on my girlfriend’s porch and when her roommate arrived home, I took my pants off. Hell, the message made as much sense hearing it as it does reading it.  I also discovered that my CD collection was switched with a collection of country albums.

Apparently during my blackout, I had intentions of going to a barbecue with a couple of rednecks and in transit I stopped by my girlfriend’s house and took my pants off.

That is the best explanation I can piece together from the evidence.

A week later at a jail I was causing a scene because I needed to talk to someone that was incarcerated.  I was very drunk and had intentions of killing myself after I spoke with the person.  They told me I was too intoxicated to visit a prisoner and I started trashing the lobby.  I then swallowed my entire bottle of pills.  The cops were trying to book me when I stopped breathing.

One night I had ninety pills of 1 mg Ativan, a little Percocet and a couple of grams of dope.  I took all the pills and pulled into a parking lot to boot up and float listlessly away into oblivion.  The parking lot I chose happened to be behind the Masonic Temple.  The “father” knocked on my window while I was tying up and told me to leave.  I opened the car door and hit him in his jaw.   Four days later I woke up with a catheter and a tube in my throat.  The “father” called the police after I hit him and they found me, collapsed lungs and faint pulse, in the car.

I will probably be abducted one day and sacrificed during a Masonic ceremony.

CONCLUSION

I’ve decided that I will not die by my own hands, it’s too difficult to do.  Instead, I will continue to watch outside, inside my head providing a social commentary.  Maybe today I will quit.  I consider this, then take more lithium chased with a glass of Jack Daniels.

I forget.  One time I went to a bar a ordered a ginger ale.  There is your lie.  That, and anytime in my story where I said I left my apartment, those were lies too.  The rest, is as I promised.


Fiction: Sixty-Five Wall Street (Volume 1)

 wall street

“Whether chosen or picked, each day is an opportunity.”

– Mr. Rockford

 

VOLUME I

Chapter 1

The Waiting Room with Jessica Biel

CLAIRE

So, it’s like, are you fucking kidding me?  I work in Midtown, the new Wall Street, and now I have to come down to The Street to meet with some fucking life coach?  Can this get any worse?  Yes, apparently so.  Next, they have me sitting here with a bunch of hayseeds in a makeshift waiting room that has no cell phone service and a man dressed in a tuxedo asking every ten minutes whether we would like some tea.  I live in the city, I work in the city, I love it here, I don’t need anything else.  This is money making Manhattan and despite being a chick I’m the top broker in my firm.  Now my employer sends me here to go on what he calls a personal exploration project.  I mean, c’mon, this isn’t happening is it?  Eat my ass.

DANIEL

Less than a day ago I was riding a totally awesome wave at Huntington Beach.  Now, I sit in a room with three others, four if you count the preppy guy with tea.  My story?  It’s pretty simple man, born in Los Angeles, raised in L.A., will die in L.A.  This New York trip, my parent’s idea, I had no idea there were so many Italians here.   This angry girl, who I may remember from last nights party, keeps checking me out, I guess because the other guys are pretty lame.  One is reading GQ for Christ sake, the other, let’s put it this way: would you rather stare at a guy with a ripped up Scorpions tour shirt, or someone who is rad and tan? Whatever dude.

FREDDY

I’m convinced that since February 2006 GQ has been alternating covers between Jessica Biel and Jessica Alba.  My guess is the editor has a friend Jessica and this is a very subtle attempt of revenge.  Earlier today I saw a homeless man chasing a rat while yelling obscenities.  Another reason Boston is better than New York.  And let me make something perfectly clear, this is my first and last time in this cesspool.  Has deodorant not been introduced outside of New England?  Next to me is some guy who is way too tan, next to a pissed off looking girl who keeps checking her Blackberry.  Message to grumpy – there’s still no phone service.  Don’t even get me started on this piece of shit next to me, dressed like a junky.

LUCKY

Red Hook, Brooklyn is in the house mother fuckers.  The bitch who keeps checking her email is into me, I can tell, and it’s not only because the two other guys look gay.  Still not sure why I’m here, but as long as I’m getting paid, don’t care.  Only the third time I’ve left Red Hook, and twice it has been to the city.  The other time, a couple friends and I went to Long Island for a long weekend.  Worst weekend of my life, and reason number sixteen on why I don’t never need to leave Brooklyn.  I don’t even like to leave my neighborhood.  This mother fucking meeting better be quick.  What’s the deal with the guy in the tuxedo serving tea?  Fucking crazy outside Red Hook, and the party last night, that was a trip.

Chapter 2

The Graduation Party

DANIEL

Holy shit man, I’ve never been in a room with so many chandeliers.  And so many people.  This is insane.  The best part of all of this is how I don’t know why I’m here.  Supposedly this is a graduation party for the last batch they tell me.  So apparently I’m part of a new batch.  Of what?  Dude, I’m the wrong person to ask.  “You’ll know more tomorrow” is one of many discreet phrases coming from the graduates and others in attendance.  Conversation focused on perspective, but nothing specific, rather broad discussions on living life.  The local people in attendance, made up of mostly relatives of graduates a lot of talk revolving around delis and bodegas.  By the end of the night I’ve come to the conclusion they are the same thing, only the name changes from deli to bodega once the streets in New York turn to triple digits.

CLAIRE

If I ever find out who created the first novelty T-shirt, I’m going to fucking kill them.  At some point during the last five years it has become acceptable to wear these shirts anywhere.  For example, take tonight, I’m at this fucking shit-hole graduation party for something I know nothing about, and these two freaks of a couple are wearing shirts that read QUEEN BEE (with a picture of a bee), and the Blatz beer symbol respectively.  Excuse me while I go look for a sharp knife.

FREDDY

To say I have nothing in common with these people would be the understatement of the year.  A lot of Jews and smokers.  I watch a guy wearing a top hat hand out a cigarette to another guy.  Doesn’t he know?  Only women get handed a cigarette, a man gets the pack handed to him.  These ham and eggers continue to talk about places in Texas and Idaho.  I feel sorry for them, they obviously have never been to Cape Cod.  Why would you vacation anywhere else? 

LUCKY

I keep hearing about this interview tomorrow and I’m wondering whether or not I should wear a jacket until I see a couple in T-shirts and this puts me at ease.  I walk over to the DJ and ask if he has the song “Bad Boys” by the Scorpions, and he nods and proceeds to play light hip hop the remainder of the night.

CLAIRE

Oh my God, the girl in the bee T-shirt is walking toward me.  I look around, but don’t see anywhere to go.  I look down at an empty plate that just minutes ago had two crab cakes on it.  Times like this I wish I would pace myself a little more.  Fuck, no avoiding this.  She walks up and smiles, and lets me know she saw me checking out her shirt.  I just nod and don’t reply which she takes as reason to tell me about her website, where her and her husband (she points to the guy with the beer shirt) make T-shirts.  I do a half smile and look away.  She laughs and then sighs at my disinterest, finally asking me when my interview is.  When I tell her tomorrow she tells me that’s when my life is going to change.

Chapter 3

The Interviews

LUCKY

It becomes apparent quickly why I, why we are here.  For me, I have an Uncle with a sizeable inheritance who is considering putting me in his will; however, there is one condition: Lucky needs to travel and see different places.  This is why I’m sitting across from a man known as Mr. Rockford.  He is here to make this happen, give me an itinerary if you will, he is here to get angry when I tell him about my limited travels up to this point.  Mr. Rockford tells me to pack my cowboy hat, because I’m headed to The South.

CLAIRE

First off, this prick Rockford asks me a hypothetical question of whether I would take ten million dollars, the catch being I would not be able to go farther than five miles from where I choose to live.  I hate fucking questions that have no sense of reality.  Fucking bullshit really, don’t you think?  After this I throw the question back as to why his office is on Wall Street, not exactly a business triggered by the stock market.  The prick tells me many of his customers are the very firms across the street, and that he believes the world begins at Wall Street, and extends from there, in all directions.  You adventure starts here he tells me.  The next question Rockford asks is where I’ve been.  I begin telling him: New Jersey, Philadelphia, and then I notice he’s writing this all down.  When I ask him what he is writing he laughs and tells me lyrics for a new Springsteen song.  Rockford’s comedy act couldn’t sell out a table of 4 at the Olive Garden.  Anyway, the prick tells me what I’ve already figured out.  My job thinks I’m too stressed out and are forcing me on a vacation and they pay Rockford to put together an itinerary.  Fucking amazing, right?  Prick tells me I’m going to cross the country, reach the beaches of California and grab a handful of sand to bring back and throw in his face.  I ask him why does he sit here, and not constantly travel himself? That’s when he backs up his wheelchair from his desk and says he was fortunate to be able to travel when he did, and leaves it as that.  Regardless, on my way out I tell him if he wants to save time I know a place where I can get sand and would be happy to throw it in his prick face.

DANIEL

Mr. Rockford is aggressive.  Chill dude, it’s not that big of deal.  Send me to Florida, I can handle it for a week.  Instead, Rockford decides to keep me in New York.  He tells me there will things he wants me to do in the city, but most important to not share any ideas I may have with others.  You have to learn to say fuck it, because that’s exactly what everyone else is saying.  No one gives a shit about someone else’s ideas.  Before I leave I ask Mr. Rockford what he recommends for brunch.  He says it’s really up to me, some do eggs, others sandwiches, and yet others load up a plate of pancakes with fruit, syrup, whip cream, and two rails of coke on the side.

FREDDY

Living in Boston my whole life I’ve seen the sign for interstate 90, but have never referred to it as I90, but rather the Mass Pike.  So I was very surprised to learn that this road goes from Boston all the way to Seattle, and even more surprised when Mr. Rockford told me I would be taking this drive, stopping along the way.  The second surprise was that this wasn’t just my parents idea, but rather everyone around me.  When Mr. Rockford tells me he knows how it feels, I realize this is no longer just going to be a road trip.  “I had this one girl, a real snake charmer, know what I mean?”  Mr. Rockford says and I just nod.  Lilly is her name, I tell Mr. Rockford, and it’s been three months and it hasn’t gotten any better.  “There’s no magic pill, shit, if there was, we would have all taken a bottle by now.”  Mr. Rockford assures me all will get better with time, and that the best way to make time move is to add something new, add an adventure.

Chapter 4

Outward Bound, part I

FREDDY

An hour past Worcester I reach the New York state border, three hours until Albany where I’m suppose to meet a girl named Shalika and as a favor to Mr. Rockford, give her a ride to Bloomington, Indiana.  As requested, The Rolling Stones are playing non-stop.  It was either the Stones, or country music, those were the two options Mr. Rockford gave me, hence my choice.

CLAIRE

Driving from New York to Cleveland is pure hell.  Driving through the Poconos it was so foggy I almost drove off the road, twice.  In Pittsburgh, I don’t even know how to say this, in Pittsburgh let’s just say the mullet is still strong.  At a gas station I got hit on by three of these mullet guys, ew.  For the next 90 miles the only band playing on the radio is The Eagles, doesn’t matter if it’s studio or live, there is not a worse band in the universe.

DANIEL

For my first New York brunch I have scrambled eggs, sausage, and a Bloody Mary at a bar and grill in Soho.  This is by far the only city in America where at 10am a person can order a Bloody Mary and not turn heads.  Of course, this only applies to Bloody Mary’s and Mimosas, if I would have ordered a Seven and Seven, I’m guessing heads would turn, and mumbling would begin.  I drink two Bloody Mary’s and then begin to make my way to the East Village where there is a band playing later I’m suppose to check out.

LUCKY

Lucky is not my given name, but rather a nickname given to anyone who has grown up in my neighborhood and never been shot or ended up in jail before their twentieth birthday.  Given this information I’m not sure how this is going to help my first stop on my trip down South.  I’m in South Jersey, Atlantic City to be exact where I have a three hour layover before I catch a plane to Tennessee.  I have a driver waiting for me as I stop into Ceasars and head straight for the crap tables where everyone is playing their money on the number four.  I put down a hundred, the next roll is a seven, and I head back out to my car and have the driver stop at a liquor store before the airport.

FREDDY

Shalika doesn’t stop talking until we pull off in Canton, Ohio where apparently we are meeting one of her friends and they are coming along to Indiana.  I’ve got no problem with pulling over and grabbing a bite, only a problem with the accent and how everyone continues to guess what part of New England I’m from based on my accent.  The name of the bar is Chuck’s Steerhouse and as we walk in Shalika spots her friend who is sitting in a booth and goes over to see her, I make my way to the bar.  The bartender watches Shalika and then asks me if I’m Freddy, then hands me a folded up brown paper bag.   I look inside and see what appears to be cocaine.  “Whore candy”, says the bartender who then points over to Shalika and her friend who I now notice is a brunette, and looks a little bit like Lilly.

CLAIRE

Missouri is my first real destination on this fucked up trip.  I swear, between New York and California, this could really just be one large state.  I do have to say, there is a sense of relaxation, that is until I look closer to the notes Mr. Rockford gave me and realize my destination is Branson, Missouri.

DANIEL

The band is called Lame Corporate Jerks and they do mostly Jimmy Buffet covers, not exactly my groove, but it’s still cool because everyone in the room is pounding drinks and those coming off of work are waving their ties in the air.  Next to me a guy named Drake, notices my shades that I’ve moved onto the top of my head, and begins talking to me about sunglasses and how he owns a chain of stores.

LUCKY

Yo, check out the girls in Nashville, my favorite kind, drunk.  The first girl I meet at a bar named The Boot is Nadine.  She is loaded off Wild Turkey and acts as if she has no feelings at all, like an abuse patient.  After the second fall off her stool my conscience takes over and I move along to a girl named Francine, who goes by Franny.  Right away I know I’m in trouble.  After fifteen minutes (three shots during this time) I can see she’s got two of characteristics that I’m always attracted to: scary and crazy.  Somewhere around the time she asks me where I’m staying I know I’m dealing with the double F – fear and fucked.

FREDDY

Shalika offers to drive, but I tell her no only because this was one of the rules Mr. Rockford gave for the trip.  Quite honestly I don’t know why I’m listening to him, but since I’m way out of my environment I take the wheel and get back on I90.  Shalika moves to the back and lets her friend, Chaise, sit shotgun.  When I hit 65 mph she unzips my fly, when I hit 80 mph I’m about to lose control, at 100 mph I explode and the car goes off the road, side swiping a BMW, passing the shoulder, crashing into an exit sign for Columbus, Ohio.

MR. ROCKFORD

There happens to be a cemetary in St. Louis where there is a grave, of a person who was born and died on the same day, January 19.  Why this is important?  This is Claire’s birthday.  Trying to steer her over to this cemetary may be difficult, but the perspective to be gained?  Priceless.  Next, I call my main guy Jerry, we go way back.  I have him fly down to Nashville, dress up as a giant Red Hook beer bottle, find Lucky and run up to him screaming “You have been warned!”.  Then, I lean forward, adjusting my chair and I wonder how I can get Daniel involved in an all out ripping off of shirts and stabbing fight.  Shalika calls and lets me know she got away.  I ask about Freddy and ask if when he climaxed he yelled the name Lilly.  She wasn’t sure given the crash that coincided with the blow job, but when they left him, despite being unconscious there was a smile across his face.  This is good news.

Chapter 5

Show Me The Local Talent

DANIEL

Drake invites me to a club where he tells me the women will be amazing, but not as tan as I am.  He also asks me something about pain, but mistakenly I assume he means emotional.  After a short cab ride to the meat packing district we arrive at a side door of a building that appears empty.  To my surprise the place is open and extremely active, and even more to my surprise is that this place is an S&M club.

LUCKY

Franny introduces me to three guys all named Bruce or something and then she disappears and in her place appears a bottle of tequila.  The guys begin pouring shots and I look around for Franny, she’s nowhere to be found so I begin doing shots a little concerned with my new company.  The only time guys should be together without women is when there are sports involved, partying that may or may not include drugs, and gay sex.  I look around for a game, see nothing but country music videos so I begin pouring tequila shots to ensure we are partying together.

FREDDY

I wake up in the back seat of a cop car.  The girls are gone, my car, I can see it smashed off to the side.  The last hour slowly comes back to me as the cop gets in the front seat and asks me if I’m looking to deal drugs.  Holy fuck, the whore candy!  I’m about to explain, but luckily he didn’t find it, and is only asking because he saw a map of Seattle and believes people only travel there to score heroin and get tattoos.  “They love their needles in the Pacific Northwest.”  I ask him if he can give me a lift and he laughs and tells me I’m being arrested for reckless driving while masturbating, not too mention I have two warrants for my arrest.  I try to explain, but instead of listening the cop turns on the lights and drives to the closest station, Bloomington, Indiana.

CLAIRE

So this is the “Show Me” state?  Yeah right, you have to show me because I sure as fuck don’t see it.  Also, why is it in the Midwest everyone wants to tell you how much they’ve had to drink?  This is like their pickup line or something, I’ve had six Brandy and Cokes, or I’m on my twelfth beer, or this is only my second one.  Who gives a fuck!  I’ve had to listen to all of you losers.  After a terrible Italian dinner I decide to have a glass of wine and meet a French guy named Jacque who is cute and I swear has been looking for me.  Anyway, he may be more pissed off than I am that we’re in Missouri.  We agree to be miserable together, or at least I think he agrees, it’s hard to tell with his accent.  We split a bottle of wine then walk through the, and I say this lightly, main street of Branson where we stumble into a bed and breakfast, and oh what the fuck, I make Jacque show me what he’s got.

DANIEL

So it was no bullshit what Drake said about the women here.  Amazing.  Amazing enough to talk you into anything.  Like check this out man, here I am, bent over and handcuffed to a table being paddled by this tall naked red head.  She teaches me to embrace the pain.  Next is piercing.  With only my boxers on they stand me up and tie me to a cross.  A topless blonde who is popping bright red pills and a naked Asian join the red head in biting my chest and then piercing my nipples with a needle held in the Asians teeth.  Drake stops by and says he has to go, but that I’m in good hands.  After the piercing I’m bent over again and given an enema that gives me the odd feeling I get when I eat too much steak, as if I’m drunk on meat.  I think I even black out for a moment because next thing I know I’m in a cab with the three girls headed to a building where on the roof they have a helicopter.

LUCKY

The people I know who drink tequila, often they find a worm at the bottom of the bottle, for me there’s a set of boxing gloves.  I finish off the last swig and point out a group of guys wearing very large cowboy hats and try to get my new group of guys named Bruce or something to rumble.  Instead I realize we are out of tequila and the partying is over, with this realization something very different happens with my new friends.

Chapter 6

The Switch, part I

CLAIRE

So Jacque is like, the fucking greatest one night stand ever.  He brings me breakfast, in bed and it has a little juice glass with a flower in it.  While I eat he reads me poetry in French, and makes me coffee.  He waits until I’m finished before he hands me a box of pregnancy tests and tells me he believes I was impregnated by him last night.

DANIEL

Up fifty floors to the top of a building on Ninth Avenue and sure enough, there is a helicopter waiting for us.  The red head grabs my hand and helps me into the passenger side and then gets in.  She plays with some of the controls and then we begin to lift off.  I look back to the roof where the blonde (still topless) and the Asian (now dressed) are waving good-bye.  Once we are in the air the red head continues to look over at me, expecting a reaction like when watching someone else’s favorite movie and they want your approval.  I smile and take in the view, we are over the financial district when she puts her hand on my knee and asks me if I want to take over.  Before I can answer the engine dies and we begin a free-fall down to if I’m not mistaken, is Wall Street.

LUCKY

I’m pondering why adults talk about the movie Shrek, and why women would even consider wearing white to someone else’s wedding.  At this point, while I sit in my hotel room, watching the weather channel, I’m thinking about anything other than last night.

FREDDY

Great, glad I left Boston, now I’m in jail sitting next to a black guy named Lole who continues to incoherently scream act the guards, the people passing by the holding cell, and me.  Jesus, what is wrong with this guy?  Act like a human being.  A guard approaches and asks me if there is anyone I’d like to call.  Trying to give him names and numbers becomes even more difficult when Lole comes up to my ear and continues screaming.

CLAIRE

Un-fucking-believable!  Four tests, all red fucking crosses, and if that’s not bad enough, Jacque is still hanging around, telling me he wants me to have his child.  The couple in the room next to us, they are wearing matching Looney Tunes pajamas as they approach the common dining table. This is exactly why no one needs to leave the city.  Fuck Branson.

DANIEL

During the initial free-fall of the helicopter my thoughts are on what I should have done with my life instead of surf each day, and also the lingering question of whether or not the blonde goes through life always topless.  Before I come up with an answer there’s a loud noise and then a back-up engine of sorts starts up, just enough time for the red head to gain control and land on top of a building on the corner of Broad and Wall.  We are greeted by many police officers and also a guy named Earl (I find out is whom the red head works for), who is asking me for money for the time I’ve spent with her.

LUCKY

There’s a knock at my hotel door and my prayers are answered when I find it not to be the guys from last night.  Unfortunately though it’s the FBI, and they have questions about the guys named Bruce or something from the night before.  They are involved in organized crime and are being watched by the FBI.  They would like to me come to their office and go on the record detailing what happened last night. 

FREDDY

My first call is to my lawyer, well not exactly my lawyer, but my best friend, Gerry, who just finished law school.  Not to have him represent me (no need to recreate My Cousin Vinny here), but rather to find me a lawyer and find out what mix up there is with the supposedly outstanding warrants.  Gerry tells me he’ll do what he can, but that I should know my story has made the national news.  I’m about to ask what angle the story is taking, but he cuts me off and asks, “So Fred, you were masturbating at 100 mph, blew your load, and crashed your car?”  Now may be the time to call my mother.

Chapter 7

One Day At A Time

DANIEL

Dude, this is way too fucked up.  Yeah, I definitely feel set up so I’m calling this guy I know, named Richie, he’s a private investigator.  I went to 65 Wall Street to meet with Mr. Rockford and you know what they said, “Sorry, Daniel, but this stop is not on your itinerary.”  This is not cool and this shit needs to stop, how do I get out of this man?

RICHIE VEGAS

This Mr. Rockford character is something else.  I’m eating at Tex-Mex BBQ Hut in Chicago when Daniel calls me and fills me in on what has happened.  Turns out half of the people who enter into the program are never again accounted for, or found for that matter.  My first task is to locate the current group and prepare a meeting.  From my initial research it looks like Daniel had it easy, at least he was in one place and not traveling around the country.  The second thing I need to do is finish these ribs because they are absolutely outstanding.

CLAIRE

I literally fucking run from Jacque, it was the only way I could get away, and go see a doctor.  I mean, there really isn’t a choice here, right?  The interesting thing is when the doctor tells me I’m not pregnant.  Are you fucking sure?  I ask, and he confirms this and tells me it sounds like sabotage to him.  “Was this guy French?”  He asks me.  I tell him yes and wonder how many times Jacque has done this in Branson.  The doctor says it’s not Jacque, but rather French guys in general.  This is a little joke they play, like little boys pushing girls, it’s there way of saying they like you. With that answer I head to the airport and catch a flight to LAX.

LUCKY

After threatening to call my lawyer the FBI guys back off and instead take a brief statement from me.  When we got to the details of late last night nothing specific was documented, but rather an understanding that we were all together was sufficient for now.  Sitting around my hotel room, confused, I get a call from some guy named Richie Vegas who has some very interesting things to say and tells me to meet him in Memphis.

FREDDY

After almost a full day Shalika shows up out of nowhere and bails me out.  She is alone and explains the delay in showing up is due to the coke binge she was just on.

MR. ROCKFORD

It’s about time to raise the stakes and see how far they can be pushed, but I’ve got a problem.  You see, my protégés appear to be on the run, this tends to happen.  My last class, there were six, three decided to keep traveling and never returned back.  Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.  Tonight my neighbor has invited me over to watch dirty movies and I’m considering not because it sounds like fun, but because he still refers to them as dirty movies, as if we were in the 1930’s.

Chapter 8

Elvis has entered the building

RICHIE VEGAS

At first I was wondering whether I should just go to the cops.  Freddy, Claire, and Daniel are all drinking tequila shots.  Lucky is sitting on the end, with a coffee, slowly shaking his head.  We are all sitting in the Elvis Presley café on Beal street in Memphis, listening to their stories, it was truly insane.  Daniel could have easily died, Freddy was two days away from becoming queen of the weight room prom, and Lucky appears to be in a shame spiral he can’t get out of.   Claire, well once you’ve been manipulated by a Frenchman, well that’s a lesson learned.  Each went around the table and shared their tales of deceit and danger.  Every story unique, and in it’s own way dark as if they were reading the script of a movie.  When Claire, who the last to tell here story was finished, it was pretty clear to all what had to be done.

Chapter 9

The Switch, part 2

MR. ROCKFORD

Piles of paper sit in front of me.  My job is pretty straight forward, it’s about creating an adventure for those that would never do it themselves.  Go see the desert, get drunk in a dive bar in Tampa Florida.  Fuck on the Golden State bridge.  My point is how do I have so much paperwork to do?  This is my thought, while sitting at my desk, right before four masked men knock down my office door and approach me, and blindfold me.  Two on each side pick up my wheelchair and carry me down the stairs.  I yell, but from the stairwell it falls on deaf ears.  Next, I’m placed into the back of a trailer of some sorts, within minutes we are moving, my wheel chair sliding back and forth, crashing into the sides with each turn.  After about an hour, and several times slamming my head into the side I pass out, waking up outside of the trailer, still blind folded, being carried into a musty smelling room, water trickling in the corner.  I hear a muffled male voice say something about my feet, followed by someone tying my ankles and arms to my chair.  Water hits my face, making the blind fold cling to my eyes.  Something is thrown at my feet, I can feel rodents of some sort nipping at my shoes.  I begin screaming, bargaining, offering anything and everything I have.  More water is thrown at my face.  Something is placed into my left hand, it feels like a severed foot, a severed foot that was first chewed by an animal, or maybe it was after, it’s really not important.  The sound of a power drill starts from across the room and slowly comes toward me, ten feet, five feet, two feet.  I feel something bite into the leather on my shoes.  One foot, inches the drill comes to my face.  One second before I’m going to pass out the drill is shut off, and the blind fold is removed.  The hand I’m holding is not real, but fake.  My eyes begin to adjust, I look around the room that looks familiar.  It’s the basement of 65 Wall Street, whoever did this must have traveled in circles.  I look forward at the people standing around, right when my eyes regain focus I’m hit in the face with a fistful of sand.

Chapter 10

Outward Bound, part 2

FREDDY

It wasn’t until after I met the others in Memphis that I realized what had happened, and why.  I think it was when Richie Vegas casually asked me about Lilly and for a moment I wasn’t sure who he was talking about. 

DANIEL

It’s pretty sad that it took a near death experience to figure out what I want to do.  New York is cool man, but not for me, too much trouble to get into bro, know what I’m saying?  For me, it’s back to California to try and open either a surf shop, an S&M bar, or maybe both.  Dude, I definitely need to get me a red head, they are fucking cool man.

LUCKY

I’m not ready to discuss what happened, but I think it may have been for the best.  Two things for me, first, I’m never drinking Tequila again, and second, I’ll be going back to Nashville, I’m just not at liberty to discuss why.

MR. ROCKFORD

The protégés become the mentors.  Don’t have to travel far to experience a new place. 

CLAIRE

Seriously?  You think oh, you just had a big adventure, what are you doing next?  Am I fucking moving?  Fuck that.  I’m staying here, in New York City, and that’s that.  Fuck you Branson.