I was sitting at a table under a tent, on a street called Piotrkowska, in a city called Łódź, in a place called Poland, drinking a beer called Żywiec. It was spring. There was still a bit of a nip in the air, but the ladies couldn’t wait any longer to remove their fur coats and knit caps. Some had already spray-tanned. They were ready to be done with winter, having lived with it for seven months a year, all their lives. I was kind of hoping Kate might happen by. She didn’t.
Guess who did?
Go ahead, guess.
I hadn’t seen him since last summer at the swim up bar in Puerto Vallarta. A sordid affair, that — and one I couldn’t soon forget. Now here he was again, interrupting my book as he turned a chair around backwards, straddling it, his fat elbows crashing on my table.
“Waltypants,” he said, in that high-pitched tone I’d grown to loathe. He sounded like Costello, of the Abbot & Costellos. Most days he was jovial, but today he was foul of spirit.
“Mr. Hercules,” I said, placing my Chewbacca bookmark into my copy of Gatsby. “ What a surprise.” It wasn’t, of course. He’d found me in Puerto Vallarta, after all. And New Orleans. And a pancake house. And a record shop.
“I wanna talk about your tweets,” he said, cracking one knuckle. The hairs of his underpits were caked white with deodorant. (He was shirtless, of course. As was his wont.)
“Tweets?” I said innocently.
“Walt. Don’t play dumb. You been tweeting about The Candidate.”
“The whatsis?” I said. “I don’t understand.”
“Don’t bullshit us, Walt. You’re putting out not-nice things.”
I wrinkled my brow, confused.
He scratched his perspiring, hairless head. With the same hand, he made a finger gun and pointed it at me.
“I’m afraid I — well, see here now. What do you mean, us?”
He studied me, rubbing his hands together.
I studied him.
Then he did it.
Leapt across the table.
For my phone, of all things. Snatched it right up, he did.
“Excuse me!” I said.
“What’s the passcode?” he said, poking the screen, eyeballing me with a raised eyeball.
“I’m not telling you,” I said snottily, like I was five. (Not proud of it.)
“Soochyerself,” said Dick, locking eyes with me and hoisting my phone into the air. His white-caked underpit was now exposed for all to celebrate. A suited man approached him from behind and snatched my phone away anew. Then this suited man, this second snatcher, tapped something into the phone. Then he tossed it back to Dick and he was gone, pushing past the folk on the street, disappearing beyond a grassy knoll.
Dick eyed me victoriously and flicked his big fat thumb up and down the screen, my screen, then turned it around for me to see. “What’s this?” he said, showing me this:
I’d retweeted it from the Twitters. Well, via Twitter, anyway. When he showed it to me, I was reminded why I’d retweeted it.
“Ha, yes, that one!” I said, laughing.
Dick shook the phone at me in frustration. “Why did you do this?!”
“Mr. Hercules,” I said, putting two and two together. “Please don’t tell me you’re working for him.”
Dick said nothing, just glared and shook the the phone again, as if I hadn’t seen it.
“Oh, Dick, not you,” I said.
He put the phone down. He rubbed his fingers the way that says ‘money.’ He said, “I need me some, Walt. I ain’t gettin’ any.”
I nodded, sighed. Removed my monocle, gave it a good fog. Rubbed it with my handkerchief. “So you’ve come to rough me up, then?”
Dick shook his head and did the I’m powerful thingy with his finger tips, forearms on the table. Like this:
Then he said: “Look, Walt. I love ya like a brother. But a guy has to make ends meet.”
“Sure,” I said.
“And the cash funds ain’t exactly flowing betwixt us,” he said, motioning back and forth. (You might remember that I function from time to time as Mr. Hercules’ literary agent. Not by choice, mind you. He’s kind of made it clear it’s in my best interest.) He cracked another knuckle, and raised an eyebrow.
“Dick,” I said. “What’s happened to us? How has it come to this?”
Dick stared hard at me. He pointed two fingers at his eyes, then swung them around and pointed them at me. He was watching me.
“I know you are, sir. I know.”
He go up to go. But he didn’t (go). He just stood there, glaring.
“You have a ‘poem’ for me, don’t you?” I said.
He kept glaring, like a bull about to charge.
“I know you do,” I said.
He glanced from side to side, as if checking to see who might be watching. Safe to say that, at this point, someone was, somewhere.
I gave him the reassuring head-nod, the lean-forward, the motioning with my fingers that said it’s okay, Dick, just slip it to me. I didn’t really want it, I just felt sorry for him.
Then he did something almost terrible. He reached into his pants. Luckily, all he pulled out was a folded piece of wide-rule paper torn from a spiral notebook. Relatively harmless, if a bit damp with sweat.
“Dick,” I said. “That’s gross. You should invest in some pockets.”
As he turned to go, he put on his sunglasses, then peered over them. (I think he put them on just to peer over them). He was about to do the finger thingy, but I beat him to it. “Yes, that’s great,” I said, doing the finger thingy.
And then he was gone. Heading toward the grassy knoll, I think. Not even stopping to ‘press the flesh’ with other patrons, as per his custom.
I unfolded the wide-rule notebook paper on which Dick always delivered his ‘poetry.’ This is what I read:
Maybe I’m amazed at the way you’re with me all the time
Maybe I’m afraid of the way I leave you
Maybe I’m amazed at the way you help me sing my song
You right me when I’m wrong
Maybe I’m amazed at the way I really need you
MAYBE I’M A MAN
MAYBE I’M A LONELY MAN
WHOS IN THE MIDDLE OF SOMETHING
That he doesn’t really understand
Not only had he plagiarized one of the all time greats, he’d put the screaming part in caps. Italicized ones.
I signaled the waiter for another Żywiec, then made a mental note to send a polite letter of rejection sometime after the election.
featured image: dr. trump evil
The ‘poem’ Dick stole:
And another version, in which it takes two to do it half as well:
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