Man, I took a beating in April of 1965. That was not my best year by far. The Nun I had for the tail-end of Sixth Grade at Little Flower told my folks that I was 'retarded, obstinate, disorganized and destined for bad end.' To say that I was a miscreant little jerk is not a stretch and I remain less than anal retentive in my assault upon tasks. However, bad end? I think not. I have been saved by great folks.
Upon the celebratory light-up, Bernie's Dad's car came bouncing through the then unpaved alley at a great clip. Old Man Weber had seen us in the act,
" Bernie, get your rump home now! Immediately, if not sooner. Hickey - I'll see your old man, when he gets off work and stops at Billy Ellis's. Hi Tom! How's your Mom?"
"Fine, Mr. Weber, " Scanlon, obviously off the hook, spirited the rumpled pack of Chesterfield's in my jacket pocket and tore ass south at the intersection of Marshfield and the alley. Mr. Weber glared at me, " You're as big a smart-ass as your Uncle Bart. I told Bernie to stay the Hell away form you. Make yourself scarce."
Swell. A brace of great communications concerning the fruit of his loins to candy Dad's ears, prior to his twenty minutes at home before he had to go his other job at the Beverly Theatre. Nun Battery followed by the manly art of snitching a nail. "I am well and truly screwed," I determined with no prodding from the audience, whatsoever. Smart Lad! I fired up another smoke and walked across Ashland Ave. to the Highland Theater - home of the Hercules versus Viet Cong and other B Movies.. There was always sexy and salacious movie posters to heighten a lad's trip to the Saturday Confessional. Always, a grand idea to tempt oneself.
I stood in the ticket bay of Highland Theatre on Ashland and smoked another Chesterfield with the existential fatalism of Sartre, jilted by some swell French Dame in tight sweater and tyighter slit skirt.. I looked at ads of upcoming movies that I would never see. A gruff but familiar voice assaulted my pornographic musings, " Spit out that butt, Kid." Jesus!!!!!!!
Cop? Uncle? No. Ignatius the school janitor? Nope. I turned to see furrowed brows and dashing side burns, bushy eye brows and Goliath-like terror of none other than Klondike Moose Cholak - The Wrestling Foe of Man and Beast!.
The man eclipsed the waning western sun beaming on the tar roof of Billy Ellis' Wooden House, where the Old Man stopped for a Hamms and a Vinegar and Oil ( Seagrams VO Canadian). The Star of Saturday afternoon pre-Confession Wrestling brought to me by Ben's Auto Sales on South Western Ave. snapped, " Weed's for sissies, book-worms and sob-sisters, kid."
Uh,uh stammered I , " I just tried 'cuz the guys and me . . ."
Moose Cholak glared at me, " Hey, save it for Aunt Gertie! You wanna end up being be some pencil neck, no good for anybody, salad eater, Boy?"
Given my proclivities of the tongue, I was more than familiar with the rhetorical question at this tender age and checked my natural tendency go all Noel Coward with Klondike Moose Cholak.
Rather, I penitently answered properl, "No sir."
With folded arms and a broad smile of avuncular approval, Klodike Moose Cholak ordered me to pick up the cast away cylinder of sin and put it in the cement ashtray near the curb like a good boy and then waxed poetic, " Breakfast at Tiffany's, kid. That's what smoking'll do for you and our whole county. You know, that they made it a movie a couple years back with that skinny broad from My Fair Lady.? Now, pay attention! The guy who wrote the story about that skirt that liked to shop and hang around fairies and rich creeps, started smoking at your age. I saw him on Suskind's TV show, when I couldn't go back to sleep, last week and it stuck with me. This tiny little bald guy with a pixie voice said his mom was some hillbilly hooker and that he started smoking as a little guy and it stunted his growth, made his hair fall out and talk like a girl. That's no way, Kid. Now, where's that saloon what's called The Wooden House?"
I pointed to the northwest corner of 79th & Ashland and corrected the wrestler, " We call it Billy Ellis's around here."
With a smile, Moose offered this valediction, " You got some lip on you kid. A lip on you that' would trip a pig."
How could one come to bad end in this urban Arcadia?
I have not had a cigarette, since breakfast.