Friday, August 16, 2013

Smiling In the Sunshine: Capone

Blix considers, Summer returns

     “You remember that local legend about Al Capone having a house down by the river, with a speedboat in the basement ready to go at any minute?” I was doing my bad Monday habit of collecting all my olives into one glass in order to gain proper nourishment in one blast of oliveness. And yeah, I knew about Capone's house. It had belonged to his mother, actually. There was a fish carved into the mantlepiece. The house was built of brick and my great-grandfather had built the place. The bricks came from Chicago, the boat had come from Miami and the legend had come from Cousin Al's general awfulness. He...well, wait:

     “I don't know that one, Crom. There are basements in Florida?” I waved at Summer. She was waiting tables at the Breeze this year, having narrowly escaped some kind of wackiness down in the Islands. It was Martini Monday happy hour, dollar martinis from noon 'till midnight. It was two in the afternoon.

     “Yeah, I thought you were up on all this stuff. The story is that sometime in '29 John Dillinger went on a little vacation south to Daytona. But first, he had contacted Capone about doing some side work in Miami while he was in the area but The Boss shut him down quick on that idea and instead asked if he could drop by the Field Museum and pick up a package. Dillinger was so eager to get in with the big dogs he jumped at the chance. The package was a crate of pre-columbian artifacts that were worth plenty, but certainly not enough to get Capone in bed with a scumbag like Dillinger. That was the story, anyway.” Summer came to the table with a big tray covered with little plastic fake martini glasses. We got four each.

     “How ya been, Blix? How's that fucked up boat of yours?”

     "Lonesome, darlin', me and the boat both. When we goin' out again?”

     “Any time, sweetie, give me a call.” She winked and turned on her toes and padded away. Not every saloon has barely-dressed barefoot waitresses, but the Breeze did.  I got a little lost remembering some fond memories...


     “Yeah, buddy?”

     “Al Capone!”


     "Christ, man, I think you're turning into a wet brain! What did that bitch do to you, anyway?”


     “No, dammit, that fucking Mona. You haven't been right since the divorce.”

     “Well, I did lose everything, you know. And business hasn't been so hot.”

     “It's you that hasn't been so hot, brother. You need to snap out of it.” He killed two miniature martinis in two gulps. I carefully picked the olives out of mine and put them in my oliveness stash. I really liked Cromwell. He was a smart one and he had a graduate degree in pottery or something but at the same time, I could feel a trouble coming. There were things I needed to think about and being chastised by a drinking buddy was okay; he knew not what he did. I learned way back in college to cover confusion with apparent drunkenness and I was drunk enough, most of the time; but not right now. Right now I was worried and trying to sort out this mess that we had dropped into and there were people who would be also thinking about this, soon enough. I needed to talk to my Uncle Phil.

     “I'm sorry, Crom old buddy, I really am. I'll try to do better.” I slammed each of the four baby martinis in rapid succession and stood up. The room tilted about the axis of reality and then settled back into horizontal and vertical lines. I tossed back my olives and chewed and spoke at the same time.

     “Lunch was on you, remember?” He smiled and nodded okay. I turned and walked to the door. I never did any work here at the Breeze. It was a new place on Coronado Avenue. Cromwell didn't know that Mona had told me about sleeping with him while I was up in Alabama three summers ago, before the divorce.

     “Blix!” shouted Summer, standing on delicious tiptoes and stretching up from a table across the room, her halter top revealing more than it concealed. “Call me!”

I waved at her, then turned and headed out the door.  I wasn't feeling too good.