by Mark James Andrews
St. Frankie plucked a strawberry off the curb in a snow patch on 8 Mile Road and planted her in the shag carpet at New York Dominic’s big ranch crib on Windmill Point, another white lie as the big wet snowflakes of the false spring killed the crocuses. The strawberry’s black patch was tropical. She danced to her chosen radio station. In the eyes of St. Frankie her hair rose up off her skull like ten penny nails and cascaded to her shoulders like a stringer of bullheads. St. Frankie longed to hear the drip of the kitchen sink.
“Here’s the play. You’re gonna get yours up front. The long green for the trick comes out right now.” He fans out his pocket wad and lets it fly, a green shower for her. “I’m gonna play the piano. You’re gonna slow dance. 3 numbers. Then I’m through with you. Don’t stop till I exit
this room. Then get your ass out”
From the perch of his piano bench St. Frankie eyeballed her all through Misty and part way through Clair de lune as the chords slipped from between his fingers like flowers and then it was all white and black keys until his exit to the patio midway through La Fille aux cheveux de lin (The Girl with The Flaxen Hair), his exit outdoors where Assisi the statue stationed in the dead flower box stood tall in a straight jacket of snow.
“Look kid, always pay as you go and never full price. Cash money is clean. No hidden fees. There is no tomorrow in the current moment. Sleep till noon everyday if you can but never lose any sleep. Never ask. Always let the women come to you and always wear a raincoat. Remember you create your own 24 hours. You’ll be OK as long as you’re set to 98.6. I’m not talking about the radio dial here. Oh yeah, your chances are always best if you live in the city where you got a lot of choices. It’s the human element.”
I’m not a seeker of Frank’s wisdom but I listen. He’s a friend of certain people and I don’t want to get into how he got connected to me.
Every year I draw him aces against the Taxman, a matter of washing sundry 1099’s from his Hazel Park harness horse track winnings. I do it again on a sunny April afternoon. That done, we’re in his 1989 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham to motor to Jack’s Waterfront for a late lunch. “Fuck the Prius crowd. A BUNCH OF FUCKING LOSERS!”
We walk straight to the bar. “I’ll pass on eating. You go ahead. I gotta take a piss. Order me the usual.” I do after he walks off. She brings them. Long Necks. I tell her, “Better bring him a glass.”
He’s a particular man. He wants everything right. Money back at tax time and sunshine in April.
He wants to drive an old time land yacht at 11 miles per gallon for the leg room and the service in max comfort of a $40 blow job from a crack whore.
He wants a glass for his beer of choice and she brings over a nice frosted mug for him. I take a hit from the bottle and then he’s back. “WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?” “What?” I say. He points to the frosted mug. “I CAN’T DRINK OUTTA THAT.”
He stalks off and returns with a short High-Ball glass. “FUCK THAT.” He points to his frosted mug. I take a good hit out of the bottle. When she comes with my Crab Louie, he says “Give us 2 more, sweetheart.”
She grabs my empty and then his quarter full bottle pouring the remains in his little glass. He screams “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?” It startles her. Me too. “What?” she says. He points to the little glass. “CAN’T YOU SEE I’M TRYING TO MAINTAIN A FUCKING TEMPERATURE HERE?”
Mark James Andrews is the author of Burning Trash (Pudding House, 2010). His writing has appeared in many venues with some of his most recent appearances in Hiram Poetry Review, Asphodel Madness, Word Riot, and Short, Fast, and Deadly. He lives and writes one mile from the city limits of Detroit most of the time.