A desiccated rose

Turning my head slightly to the side, I couldn’t help but smile to myself. In the car next to me, would she have smiled too?

Funny. The metaphor wasn’t lost.

The autobiography? Hasn’t been finished. You have no idea.

An outstretched hand leads the way. Following the flashlight’s beam and heading down the stairs, it’s time to go back.

Seascape ’82. That’s what the cover says; was what I saw. What a strange secret I’ve kept. All these years, I thought someone was watching. Instead, I’m the lead.

Far away, I kid myself that she’s peeked too. And me? Left rummaging in the basement, looking in a book. It’s usually kept just safely out of reach. Except for tonight.

In between the pages, the wax paper cocoon is a silent tomb. It’s a thirty-something haunting.

I put it there; then.

Now I look in the mirror. Same person, different shell. No longer of the sea, the change in seasons has parched the skin. In my hands tonight though, the rose I hold has dried out too.

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Rock Lobsters

We were at a party looking for them. And while most of the time we got skunked, sometimes we’d get lucky. They were the best bait for catching things. But that was a long time ago.

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Maybe under this one. There is a connection somewhere.

I’m just trying to find it. And I keep looking around and inside hoping to find some light in the dark.

Films from a time-period, in (dare I say) a type of style . But why these films?

Kids do funny things to pass the time and our summer free-time was spent looking for crayfish. We called them rock lobsters. We were kids then.

You already knew that, right?

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Hey. Yeah you. See the mug above? The one with the dame. Well that’s Richard Conte, the boss, see? The dame? She’s Jean Wallace. Some catch huh?

Later when I started turning over other things, I came across Conte in a number of noirs. Always seeming to play the heavy mixed-up in some racket, I thought I’d seen him somewhere outside those shadows.

Racking the same brain that fades, it hit me. He was Barzini from The Godfather, a film he appeared in many years after his film noir heyday.

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Here was a clue and perhaps a bridge. A rock turned over.

Another mug. This one of Old Spice shave soap in a medicine cabinet. With a brush nearby. That was poppy’s way. He was a bridge too.

And another clue; more rocks.

So what’s the angle? That no one’s on the level.

Now it’s in another time in another place and in another form.

A frame.

And a good one. Thank you Mr. Kubrick because the mug below is hidden by a mask in this frame. Nothing but a two-bit hood. And Sterling Hayden was a good one too in The Killing.

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But you’d take the mask off the hood and you’d get another peek.

Cuz that’s the mug again. In another scene from The Godfather. This time he’s the tall guy in the middle about to take a slug from Michael Corleone, played by Al Pacino to his right.

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Sneaking up.

So you see, it ain’t just chasing dames and broads.

It’s about finding things and getting closer. It was a rock lobster.

Don’t mention it.

Dames, Tomatoes, Heels, and Joes (with a side of cad)

Dames

Tomatoes

Heels

and Joes

with a side of cad

Some real broads too

On the level

Yeah, see

Let him have it

cuz that’s quite a dish

Real swell

Gee wiz

What a gas

take a powder

with the bread

and don’t forget the dough

So start this heap

sharp or you’ll get a

bum rap

Hey, get a load of that tomato. What a dish. You’ll never pin that on me Mac. Why, it’s a sure thing. On the level pal. In this joint, things are swell. Give me another one will ya?Make it a rye before I gotta scram out of here. 

Nothing but dames and broads, heels and cads.

It’s a sure thing. All square. Any dope yet? Look sister, the brute down the pike beat it. He’s lying face down with a couple of slugs in him. So long baby. Get in my jalopy and get off the wagon. I gotta hunch that she’s a cagey dame playing footsies. 

Doll yourself up and I’ll be seein ya. You really send me, so don’t get so sore. No I haven’t lost my marbles. So stop making cracks.

Now beat it.

The First Amendment

It’s a right, they say. One of the freedoms, so I’m told.

Fortunately she smiled at me once. And she spoke to me too. Freely.

My brush up against beauty and fame was an extinguished candle on an obscure New York City street.

Trying my hand at stand-up comedy in the late 1980’s, I responded to a newspaper advertisement looking for those too willing to trade in time for chance. All I had to do was work the lights or pass out some programs or sweep up afterwards. In return, I’d receive some training in the art of improvisational comedy. Training that didn’t stick, but at least was planted.

The place was called The First Amendment.

Wedged into and hidden among the alleyways within the Greenwich Village and Little Italy regions of New York City, it was a past-its-prime noir-like comedy lab. Here was a greenhorn with a chance to assimilate into the comedy subculture. A chance to be someone. A chance indeed. That assimilation, was a reserved table on its periphery. Direction, or lack of; and self-confidence, or lack of, would be my governor. But that’s a ticket to another show.

On this or that day, I stood outside the club acting as a sort of sentinel. Poetic license and justice mixed with a chaser of selective embellishment allows me to paint the day as a grey one. And that’s when she sauntered by; a real life star walking past a hope to be one day.

Lauren Hutton smiled at me. It was a long time ago, but it helped get me here.

Our frozen moment gave me some freedom.