By Steve Siciliano
Been laying low lately. I have this little place, a hut really, on a lake up north and it’s there where I go whenever I need to be alone. No telephones, no television, no radios. No electricity, no running water. I never bring anything to read and there’s nobody to talk to but the squirrels and birds, chipmunks and loons, hawks, beavers and the occasional eagle. One day I drifted for hours in my old wooden boat watching a high drifting eagle. The eagle and I had a nice long-distance conversation. I go there whenever I need to not think. The Crazy Hippie made a sign that I put above the door that says “No Thinking Allowed”. But I’m back now. I’m back, I’m thinking again, and I’m thinking I’m going to be okay. The other day when I stopped in Siciliano’s, the Perch joked that he’d been checking the obits to see if I was dead. Well, I’m not dead but I should be. I came close, I came real close.
I’m not going to get into details. Maybe someday I will. Jimmy told me that I should put it all down, that I should write a book. He’s a big fan of Chandler and Hammett, Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade. He loves watching old Bogart movies. Jimmy thinks it would make a good story and it probably would. The story of a hard-boiled private eye who wasn’t as tough as he thought he was, who had a weakness he didn’t know he had, who got mixed up with a very smart, very evil woman.
Tonight I’m getting drunk. I have a wound that has to be closed and to close it I’m going to need a little anesthesia. I’m finishing my fourth Knob Creek on the rocks and I’ve just motioned to Jimmy for another. When he brought the last one over he wouldn’t put it down until I gave up my keys which means tonight I’ll be sleeping in his office on an ugly couch that he bought at some antique store on Bridge Street between his third and fourth marriage. When I told him once how ugly that couch is he laughed and said the only reason he keeps it is because his fourth wife hated it. Here he comes now with the Bourbon. That a boy Jimmy. Put it on the table then go back to your Bogart movie. But keep keeping an eye on me. And keep that sawed-off pool cue ready in case there are any sharks out there who smell blood and want to even a score.
I’ve known Jimmy a long time, seen him drunk plenty of times, but not once because of a woman. He’s got the right attitude when it comes to women. Hell, when you get right down to it I guess he’s got the right attitude about everything. “Shit happens,” he always says. “Shit happens, Harry,” he said that day fifteen years ago. Not “I’m sorry, Harry”, or “Hang in there, Harry,” or “You’re better off without her, Harry”. I guess that’s what I get for having a god damn Taoist as a friend. Don’t commiserate with someone’s pain just tell them that shit happens and to go with the goddamn flow. He pissed me off so much I stopped coming around the bar for six months. All I wanted was a little sympathy but I got nothing but “shit happens.” All four of his wives left him and not one time did it bother him. He told me the first one left because he worked too much, the second because he smoked too much, the third beca