USING THE N WORD EVERY TIME HE OPENS
“I’ve had my escape planned for years.”
That’s how Tony talks. Quietly. Softly. Self-assured. Like he has all the angles covered.
“That’s the first thing you’ve got to learn if you’re going to choose a life of crime.”
Tony has a movie vision of crime. Making the big killing. Being killed. Or living the rest of your days with a big smile on your face. Knowing that you fooled the man. Tony liked that expression, the man. It appealed to his sense of fairness.
“Imagine every possible job you hope to pull off and then imagine that it goes wrong and you need to escape. Visualize. Even life itself. Death will come.”
Tony sees himself as a kind of philosopher tough. Like a wise guy. Who is wise.
“You know there’s going to be that final moment or moments when it’s all going to end. And how are you going to escape that. I got a way. I got it all figured out.”
Tony likes to chew gum when he talks like this. That snapping rubber in his mouth makes him feel. Existential. He doesn’t know what the word mean. But he likes the sound of it. Like the gum popping.
“Know thyself. That’s the first thing I learned. And I knew that I was never going to be brilliant enough to get what I wanted. Not that I ain’t smart. I’m plenty smart. But in the straight world if you’re going to do things on the straight and narrow, you got to be really smart. And lucky. Better be smarter than lucky. That’s the second thing I learned. Crime was easier. I mean the learning curve is sharper. You gotta learn or you’ll burn.”
Tony likes to see himself as a guy who’s seen both sides of life. From up and down. All that Joni Mitchell shit. He likes to see himself as a survivor. Like he walked out of the rubble of an Italian town after the second world war. An orphan who made it. Except of course that it would have been his grandfather who walked out of the rubble. And his father who built up the plumbing business that now pays his rent. If he lived alone. But he stills lives at home. Somebody has to do his laundry.
“People say, well mostly teachers and guidance counselors, Tony, you could go far if you applied yourself. Applied myself. What they mean is work hard. Jump through the hoops. Kiss ass. Do what is expected. And do it over and over again. And then hope you’re lucky. Luck has too much to do with being straight. In the criminal world, luck has nothing to do with it. So I chose crime. That’s the third thing I learned. Oh, I didn’t mention it yet. There’s not as much competition in crime. Most of the people who are criminals are stupid. Morons. They get caught by high school drop outs – cops. How stupid you gotta be?”
You can see where Tony is headed. Probably get caught shoplifting. And bawl his eyes out if they keep him an hour in jail. The parents will come down to the police station and get him out. The mother will cry all the way home. The father will drive too fast. And yell. And Tony will sit in the back seat and smirk. And think how much cred this will give him with his friends.
“So I got two buddies now. Both morons. I wouldn’t say that to their faces of course. They’re sensitive. People are like that about the truth. Teddy is a cry baby. Been a cry baby since he was a … a cry baby. I’ve known him most of my life. He’s afraid of the dark. Afraid of his momma. Teddy is just a bag of jello. And then there’s Sean. The guy thinks he’s black. Keeps using the N word every time he opens his mouth. Which is something Teddy hates. Teddy is an N. Sean would change places with Teddy in a nanosecond. Sean is all muscle, no brain.”
Tony’s friends are more pathetic than he is. Of course, isn’t that how all criminals begin? Little creeps. Who are always taking the easy way out. Tony is right when he says that Teddy is a baby. If it was up to Teddy he’d be back on the tit tomorrow. And Sean! A brute. One of those guys who likes putting his fist through someone’s teeth. For practice. And one day gets caught in an alley. By someone with dentures. And friends.
“But Sean likes me. I think he’s a faggot. But that’s okay. What do I care as long as I’m not putting out for him and he does what he’s told. Course, I could never tell Sean that he’s a faggot. Who the hell knows how he would react if he had to face the truth about himself? But it comes in handy. Having two guys who’ll pretty well do what I want. And what I want is to make a reputation. Stealing. Robbing drug stores. We’re going to be called the Drug Store Bandits. That’s why we’re going to rob drug stores. It sounds good.”
You see how smart Tony is. He wants to be remembered for being a thief. Of drug stores. Blind ambition. Sometimes I wonder how he got this far. Mom was too easy on him. That’s what I think. And dad. Never kicked his ass like he kicked mine. The older brother. That’s what they call me. Don’t even bother to call me by name. Be a plumber. Get a trade. Sweat my ass off for the family. While their little golden boy sits around playing the tough guy. And heading straight to hell.
“Drug Store Bandids. It makes a neat name for a gang. Later on after we hit the big time, I’ll probably go out on my own. That’s what happens in rock groups. The lead singer leaves the group once they make a name for themselves. Well, why not? I’m going to make a name for myself. I can’t have morons hanging on to me. Dragging me down. You know what I’m saying? I’ve got to be myself. But that’s for later. Right now, we’re going to make everyone stand up and pay attention. Drug Store Bandits. It’s gotta a ring to it.”