I recognized the voice and my heart sank, I knew it meant work and I was at low point. Yea, the voice belonged to Charlie Vandersmoot of the Bergen Record newspaper, I had done some freelance writing for him before and I knew what a treacherous, underhanded bastard he was.
"What's up?" I scowled at the thought of what was coming next.
"Joe, it's like summer and a lot of the staff is off"
"I know it's summer you heartless fuck, so what?"
"I need you, big time. It's the biggest sports story in 9 years as far as the Mets go, you know what I'm talking about, right?"
Of course I knew what he was talking about, I had been on an emotional roller coaster for the better part of a week watching my beloved hapless team go from a high to an amazing low, then lower still to a spectacular week end finish. It had affected me in a most profound and really funky way. When Charlie called I had actually thought it might be the Governor threatening to send the National Guard to smoke me out of my house. You see, I had barricaded my self in, was drinking heavily and had even took a swipe at the mailman with a buck knife when he tried to drop off a certified letter. The letter now lay upon the driveway, right where he had dropped it as he careened off the side of my car running for dear life from my wild lunges. I believe I might have screamed something about Dick Cheney and how the fat fuck was gonna pay for his Haliburton bullshit in Iraq. Drinking cheap Jim Beam bourbon does that shit to me.
"Listen, Charlie, whatever it is you fucking want, make it quick, they're surrounding the house and I'm gonna have to pull a Butch Cassidy and shoot my way outta here"
"What? Joe, try and pull it together and for God's sake put down the Jim Beam". He knew me too well. "You gotta get out to Citi Field for tomorrow nights game and cover it, the biggest game in recent memory, the whole city is buzzing, I'll send a car for you."
"Are you fucking crazy? I can't trust anyone, especially some idiot in a stretch limo who probably wants to collect the reward money I have on my head. The Post Office probably has my fucking mug shot on the wall! Tell you what, leave a car under my name at the Exxon on the corner of Plaza and FairLawn Ave., they have rentals, make sure it's tank-like and fill it with high octane jet fuel and a case of, better make that two cases of Bohemia beer, none of that cheap shit you try and pass off on me"
The other end of the line went silent.
"Charlie! Charlie!! Don't fuck this up! I smell Pulitzer prize!"
"The car'll be there, game starts at 8PM, it's on national TV and for God's sake pull it together!"
He hung up, I envisioned him, like a 60's schoolkid practicing for an atomic blast, crawling under his desk and tucking his head between his legs. It was time to get moving.
"Tiptoe through the window
By the window, that's where I'll be
Come tiptoe through the tulips with me" - Tiny Tim
I peeked through a crack in the door, the late morning sun was shining brightly and it stung my eyes. The coast seemed clear and I slowly, quietly tiptoed through backyards, over fences, behind garages, making my way to the Exxon station. I had a doctors grip with me containing the essentials: ether, a quart of Jim Beam, a pile of hashish brownies, a small zip lock bag filled to bursting with xanex and other assorted opiates, a leather bound journal, a bundle of #2 pencils and a razor sharp buck knife for sharpening of said pencils. I couldn't help but think of the great artist Ralph Steadman and his rendition of Hunter Thompson sneaking out of Vegas, tripping on strong acid.
To be continued.......