St. Frankie plucked a strawberry off the curb in a snow patch
on 8 Mile Road and planted her in the shag carpet at New York
Dominic’s big ranch crib on Windmill Point, another white lie
as the big wet snowflakes of the false Spring killed the crocuses.
The strawberry’s black patch was tropical. She danced to her
chosen radio station. In the eyes of St. Frankie her hair rose up
off her skull like ten penny nails and cascaded to her shoulders
like a stringer of bullheads. St. Frankie longed to hear the drip
of the kitchen sink.
“Here’s the play. You’re gonna get yours up front. The long
green for the trick comes out right now.” He fans out his pocket
wad and lets it fly, a green shower for her. “I’m gonna play the
piano. You’re gonna slow dance. 3 numbers. Then I’m through
with you. Don’t stop till I exit this room. Then scoop up your cash,
dress up and hustle your ass out of here. Be quick about it and no
funny business. Use your cell to get a cab back to your beat.”
From the perch of his piano bench St. Frankie eyeballed her all
through Misty and part way through Clair de lune as the chords
slipped frombetween his fingerslike flowers and then it was all
white and black keys until his exit to the patio midway through
La Fille aux cheveux de lin (The Girl with The Flaxen Hair),
his exit outdoors where Assisi the statue stationed in the dead
flower box stood tall in a straight jacket of snow.
“Look kid, always pay as you go and never full price.
Cash money is clean. No hidden fees. There is no
tomorrow in the current moment. Sleep till noon
every day if you can but never lose any sleep. Never ask.
Always let the women come to you and always wear
a raincoat. Remember you create your own 24 hours.
You’ll be OK as long as you’re set to 98.6. I’m not
talking about the radio dial here. Oh yeah, your chances
are always best if you live in the city where you got a lot
of choices. It’s the human element.”
I’m not a seeker of Frank’s wisdom but I listen. He’s a
friend of certain people and I don’t want to get into how
he got connected to me.
Every year I draw him aces against the Taxman, a matter
of washing sundry 1099’s from his Hazel Park harness
horse track winnings. I do it again on a sunny April
afternoon. That done, we’re in his 1989 Cadillac
Fleetwood Brouham to motor to Jack’s Waterfront for a
late lunch. “Fuck the Prius crowd. A BUNCH OF
We walk straight to the bar. “I’ll pass on eating.
You go ahead. I gotta take a piss. Order me the usual.”
I do after he walks off. She brings them. Long Necks.
I tell her, “Better bring him a glass.”
He’s a particular man. He wants everything right.
Money back at tax time and sunshine in April.
He wants to drive an old time land yacht at 11 miles per
gallon for the leg room and the service in max comfort
of a $40 blow job from a crack whore.
He wants a glass for his beer of choice and she brings
over a nice frosted mug for him. I take a hit from the
bottle and then he’s back. “WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?”
“What?” I say. He points to the frosted mug.
“I CAN’T DRINK OUTTA THAT.”
He stalks off and returns with a short High-Ball glass.
“FUCK THAT.” He points to his frosted mug. I take a
good hit out of the bottle. When she comes with my Crab
Louie, he says “Give us 2 more, sweetheart.”
She grabs my empty and then his quarter full bottle
pouring the remains in his little glass. He screams
“WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?” It startles her.
Me too. “What?” she says. He points to the little glass.
“CAN’T YOU SEE I’M TRYING TO MAINTAIN A
FUCKING TEMPERATURE HERE?”