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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Thanks for the Memories

Thanks for the Memories
the conclusion (finally)

Nothing Arthur said could convince his parents to move out of the gatekeeper’s house, so in the spirit of family cohesion he decided to stay with them. Ice Pick and Peanut said that they wouldn’t be caught dead in that dump and so they set up in the mansion by themselves. They would keep themselves busy playing video games on the big screen TV and eating pizza while Arthur went about collecting the cherished memories of his fictional childhood.

After he settled in Arthur came out to the porch to meet his parents. He was wearing white tennis shorts, a white cable knit cotton sweater, and canvas boat shoes. He looked like a fifth grade male gigolo at Martha’s Vineyard. “We should take out the sailboat,” Arthur said to his dad. “Mom can take pictures of us.”

“I don’t know squat about boats, neither do you. I should remind you that ain’t both of us put together amount to much of a swimmer.” Mr. Andrews’ syntax was immune to Arthur’s derision so Arthur had stopped correcting him long ago.

The truth was that just about the last thing Arthur wanted to do was go sailing, but he had seen pictures of the young royals boating. Arthur was fairly certain that he would hate sailing and now he wondered if the royal kids hated it too. Maybe everything they did sucked? Before he had come across those articles in People Magazine describing the idyllic childhood of celebrities, he never had many complaints about his own. Maybe a youth devoid of memories of sailing didn’t represent neglect?

Tennis, golf, badminton, horseback riding, water skiing, and all of the other leisure activities usually associated with the rich also seemed like a total bore to Arthur and his parents. Arthur and his mother settled back on the porch swing of the cozy gatehouse with a book. Over the years reading had been the one activity that Mrs. Andrews could enjoy with her son in silence. Arthur also seemed contented with this speechless quality time.

Mr. Andrews looked around the compound for a way to entertain himself. He scouted out the boathouse but passed up the jet ski and speedboat as frivolous—he had a rule of never trusting toys with internally combusted engines that would need to be repaired. He settled on a riding mower in the six-car garage and cut the grass on almost the whole estate. Arthur wondered if his father’s choice of a pastime would rate him a discount on the rental of the mansion.

In the late afternoon on the porch of the gatehouse, Arthur and his parents sipped iced tea that Arthur had prepared himself from a recipe he found in Town & Country. For the first time Arthur explained to them the royal family envy that had infected him when he read the magazine article.

“That’s why you got me wearing a suit, because of them little royal pansy asses?” Mr. Andrews asked. “You’re picking a pretty lousy role model if you’re trying to be like royalty. Pound for pound they’s about the most worthless animals on the planet.”

Mrs. Andrews shook her head in agreement with her husband.

“Son, they got to build mental hospitals and drug treatment facilities just to house them folks. Good grief, if you need to admire people you might as well look at the most wanted posters down at the post office,” Mr. Andrews laughed. “The way we’s all brought up is pretty much a crap shoot as to how we’s gonna turn out in the end.”

Come to think of it, Arthur hadn’t really thought this through all the way. Historically speaking you’d have to go all the way back to Charlemagne to find a monarch who had actually achieved anything on his or her own merits—and Charlemagne was illiterate most of his life. In the modern era, our vestigial royalty had a completely shameful history. The same could be said for the progeny of much of our modern elite.

“I guess my whole strategy could use an overhaul,” Arthur said as he reeled from this new epiphany. “I had a pretty good life before all of this,” he said as he looked around at the trappings of the rich.

“You had it a lot better than you’re mother and I had it when we were your age.” Arthur was slightly startled by his father’s words until he decided that the proper pronoun and verb tense usage was completely an accident.

“I guess this means that I can shut down the casino and the sports betting operation,” Arthur added.

“I guess I can go back to my old job in the service department,” Mr. Andrews cheered. “I can save that suit for when you graduate from college,”

“Or maybe when I’m acquitted on my first insider trading conviction,” Arthur added. His parents had always encouraged him to aim for the stars.

Even Arthur’s mother was feeling elated, just not so much that she felt a need to verbalize any of her joy.

“I guess that I can call off the rather gruesome retaliation I was going to rain down on that Digotti creep and his thugs,” Arthur countered.

Mr. Andrews thought about that one for a second. “Wait a second, them the guys that kidnapped me and your mom the other night?”

“That’s them.”

“Hang on a second, Arthur. Let’s not be too quick to abandon all of your hard work. You probably spent a lot of time planning this thing, and besides, after what they done to us maybe you need to teach them a little lesson.”

“That will sure make my guys happy. Closing the casino they can live with, calling off Operation Overkill would probably cause an all-out mutiny.”

The next morning Arthur, Ice Pick, and Peanut drove back home in a private car. Arthur had a few phone calls to make along the way and he didn’t want to involve his parents in a criminal conspiracy by having them in the same car. Kick off time, for the game and for Operation Overkill, would be at 6:30 Eastern Standard Time.

In his planning Arthur had ignored all of the suggestions of the more pathological members of his organization. Slasher insisted that he could buy a few pounds of Semtec from a friend of his older brother in seventh grade. Rat Face offered the use of his extremely ill-tempered pit bull to help even the score with Digotti. Ice Pick came up with the idea to bribe the kitchen staff at the strip club to under-cook the chicken wings they were serving at the party. The Pièce de Résistance would be Arthur phoning in a huge bet under the name Sal Monela. Because Arthur was a very progressive employer and because he wanted to encourage his staff’s initiative, he gave them all bonuses for their ideas but told them that he already knew a nonviolent way to punish the gangsters. It was probably a good thing that Arthur was dissolving his operation and his crew could go back to playing little league baseball and video games. Childhood shouldn’t be filled with work. As much fun as it had been, there would plenty of time for jobs.

An hour before game time Arthur stopped taking bets and closed down his operation. He and his boys moved across town to the Déja-vu and waited across the street in a surveillance van they had hired for the day. The strip club had four exits: the front entrance and three heavy steel fire doors that all opened out. Arthur had hired a Department of Transportation crew for the day who quickly placed heavy concrete barriers, called Jersey Walls, in front of all the doors to bar egress from the Déja-vu immediately after kick-off. Everyone inside would be inside until they were rescued. It wouldn’t be the DOT crew as they all went home to watch the game.

Being stuck inside a bar with plenty of food and beer for the Super Bowl seems more like where good people go when they die rather than retribution, but then came the second part of Arthur’s plan. Frankie One Eye cut the satellite cable on the roof for all of the televisions inside. Sitting in the van across the street Arthur could hear the tortured howls inside the strip club. Arthur knew that he shouldn’t be so cruel but he cut the power at the club just to amuse the boys in his crew.

About the only people you can reach on the phone during the Super Bowl are pizza deliverers, and they wouldn’t be able to move twenty Jersey Walls, even if you gave them a really big tip. When someone inside called the police they were told that help would come first thing Monday morning. The Déja-vu was a known organized crime hangout and the police could care less about their game-day problems. Arthur had one more move to make as he and his crew pulled away. He punched in Digotti’s number.

“Digotti here.”

“Mr. Digotti, Arthur Andrews here. I just wanted to tell you that you won.”


“I’m out of the business. I quit. I guess we’re even now.”

“Oh we’re pretty far from even, you little shit. When I get out of here…”

Arthur cut him off. “Before you do anything you will certainly regret, and you will regret it, let me fill you in on my insurance policy. Does the word “Goodfellas” mean anything to you?”

“That’s my email password. How’d you get that?”

“I also have your ATM PIN number and all of your online passwords. I have a great picture of you that I photo-shopped wearing a French maid outfit that I’m thinking of posting on the web site for the Déja-vu. To put it mildly, the picture isn’t very flattering. You just sit in the dark over there and check game scores on your phone. When someone lets you out, if someone lets you out, you had better forget all about me.” Arthur hung up in the middle of Digotti’s string of profanity.

Arthur was well aware that men fear that which they do not understand. He knew that men like Mr. Digotti had no understanding of the computer world—to them it was like magic. It had probably taken Digotti three years to open an email account and any warning to destroy it would weigh heavier than a death threat. He wouldn’t bother Arthur or his boys.

Arthur was dropped off at home just in time to watch the halftime show. His parents were watching the game together. Mr. Andrews had the coffee table in front of the TV loaded with his favorite snacks: chips, dip, mini pizzas, and domestic beer. As soon as Arthur had renounced his über-yuppie lifestyle Mr. Andrews threw out all the stuff in the fridge their son was making them eat. If Mr. Andrews hoped that he would never be forced to eat sushi, hummus, pâté, or caviar ever again. He hadn’t been this happy and relaxed in months.

“Welcome home, son,” Mr. Andrews said as Arthur walked in the room.

“Thanks, dad,” Arthur replied. “How are you, mom?”

“I’m good, Arthur,” Mrs. Andrews spoke.

“Yes, you are good, mom.” Arthur sat down between them, put his feet up on the table, and watched the vulgar halftime entertainment with a relish that he once thought was reserved for the people in magazines.

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