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 because he snores. Yeah, whatever, Jimmy. He gave me some other bullshit reason why the fourth one left but right now I can’t remember it. Maybe it was because of the couch. Maybe it was because he’s a Taoist. Maybe that’s why they all left him. Maybe they got sick of him telling them to go with the flow. Tonight I’m getting drunk because of a woman. Actually I’m getting drunk because of two women. The one who wounded me fifteen years ago and the other who recognized that the wound created a chink in my armor, that it became my Achilles heel, my kryptonite, or whatever other goddamn thing you want to call it.
Samantha Lowe was smart and she was evil. I say "was" because she’s dead. She’s dead and Charles Brewster is headed for prison. I should be the one who’s dead. The only reason I’m not is just pure luck. Samantha Lowe wanted me dead and she came real close to getting her wish. I’ve said before that you have to be smart in my business but I never saw it coming, never saw how they set me up. I’m getting drunk because it’s time to finally examine a fifteen year-old wound and stitch it up and if it takes a little anesthesia to do it well so be it. For fifteen years I’ve been afraid to look. Maybe you know how it is. Maybe you had once been cut and you knew it was such a bad cut that you were afraid to look. Well it’s time now that I look.
There, I did it. Doing it was Jimmy’s idea. He told me that when you discover a weakness you have to examine it before you can eliminate it. Well I examined it and I’m quite sure that I eliminated it. I guess time will tell. The next time he looks over at me I’m going to give him the A-OK, the old thumbs up. Thanks for the tip, my friend. I’m going to finish this drink and then I’m off to bed. Or off to the couch. That big, over-stuffed, lovely old couch.