17 February 2009

The Priest and The Trans-Am

I was doing odd jobs at the time. $50 here for them to run some tests on me, $25 there for answering some questions about this or that. I was walking dogs, collecting cans, changing hard to reach light bulbs, fixing clogged drains, painting rooms for rent, whatever I could. Used to love to catch a corporate breeze from the banks and their devil-may-care igloo air conditioning in the dead of July. I'd just stand outside while people went in and out of the automatic doors. I had names and numbers written all over the palms on my hands and my arms. Felt like that guy in that movie. I was still waiting on a big payday from a remix I'd done of Petula Clark's "Downtown" for a soundtrack that never came out. I was hoping I'd run into Tony Hatch. Figured I could get him to advance me my share. Lord knows I needed it. I was grubbing instant coffee from Father Martinez in a storefront church off Luquer Street trying to stuff as many packs of sugar into my jacket pockets as I could before he turned around. I was getting tired of giving my soul to Jesus every Tuesday morning just for a few cheap styrofoam cups of lukewarm Folgers but I had to check in on the good Father. He was a bad ass priest. That was his thing. Tried to get guys like me to convert. And we did but only because we were hungry and cold. He'd tell us stories about flying P-51 Mustang's in WW2. He was cool. Just lonely. Anyway, I'd stashed a bag of diamonds inside the antifreeze overflow container of his metallic brown 1977 Trans Am that he kept up at his old house in Marble Hill but I knew that was for emergencies only and for as bad as this was I knew it could and probably would get a lot worse. Somehow I had that reasoning despite it all. I knew all the Father did was wax that thing. He never drove it. It still smelled like Pontiac factory leather and rubber. Regardless it wasn't as easy as one may think to cash in a few hundred thousand in diamonds when you looked as rough as I did covered in white house paint and dirt. The jewelers wouldn't even buzz me inside around my way and I'd burned all my bridges on 47th street so I was stuck. Had enough money to get me out of this mess but it in the wrong currency. I needed cash and all I had was stones. I crashed hard that night on the stairs of the Mexican restaurant next to the church. Woke up to someone saying something about a stolen Trans Am and a missing priest. And in a way, I guess that's how it all started.

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