“Get back! Stand up straight… no, I mean down on your hands and knees! You always slouch like this?” Damn, that was a stupid question. I am a cop; I have been trained to respond in a certain fashion. “Look, kid, if you have to do this, well son, I gotta tell you, gang, no gang, tough or not, if you do not stand up straight, I am going to blow your head off.”
The kid stared; his eyes looked through me, you know, what the fuck looks? He slouched; what else can I tell you, other than it really pissed me off so I blew his fucking brains out. They spattered on the wall behind him. The look was still there as he slouched to the ground. The bastard, even in death, refused to stand up straight. Now, you may well ask me why would I do this – shoot the bastardo, right? I must admit a valid question that I later asked myself while pumping a few at the policeman’s bar called Sunset Haven Bar and Grill. What can I tell you? It was across the street from the station. It could have any name, I suppose, but its proximity to our reality was good enough for most cops and that was that.
“Make mine the same, George, but double up on the short stuff.” Mike Candiotti sat down on the stool next to me.
“What the hell is up, Mikey?” I was glad to have Mikey sit next to me; it forced other cops to avoid the area.
“Why do you always have to call me fucking Mikey, Dillinger? What? You think I am still that same little guy you beat the crap out of, just for fun, when we were kids? You never bullied anybody but me, Dillinger. What the fuck is with that, huh?” Mikey laughed while asking. He always did – kind of a thing we had. I suppose I should let you in on why Mikey and I were buddies, right?
"This ain’t right, Dillinger. We should get away from this place pronto. We are gonna end up slabs of fucking meat, dead, rotten fucking meat if we do this.” Mikey and I stood outside the Marine recruitment office. It was July, and as that month is in these parts, it was hot, sweaty, miserable. You had to have a twelve gauge to kill the mosquitoes. Damn insects loved my blood more than anything else in the world, they did. My old mother would always tell me the Flakewaiter blood was the richest blood on the planet and that mosquitoes were smart critters around Valparaiso, Indiana.
“We only have the best skeeters here, Dillinger; only the very best. Now, be still. I have to put this Calamine lotion on correctly or you will be itchin’ yer skin off. Dillinger, sit still, child!”
“Yes, Mother.” I also suffered from boils on occasion and boil treatment was why I had a nasty temperament, my old mother told me. I never responded much to her commands. Kind of a useless toil it was, responding to her with anything but ‘yes, Mother’. She also had a penchant for cod liver oil, which did not help my disposition, either.
“Calamine and fucking cod liver oil, Mikey; those are the reasons we are gonna join up.”
“What! We are joining the Marine Corp because of Calamine and fucking cod liver oil, Dillinger?” Mikey repeated most everything I said.
“Never mind, Mikey. Let’s go!” I grabbed my friend under the arm and marched his big ass into the office. I hear your mind working; how could I bully a guy as big as Mikey? He was huge. Even as an eight-year-old, he towered over every other kid in the neighborhood. Fact is, I really was not a very good bully but, as the way of the world was and as sick as I was, what from Calamine and cod liver oil, well, he was the biggest prick in the block as I said and it just seemed natural for me to walk up to him one day and beat the crap out of him.
Mikey and his family had just moved in and it was the first day of school. I saw him coming. The calamine had been slapped on and damn if I had not gotten a double dose of the cod that very morning. You can see how this would have put me in a damned foul mood, right? Yes, this eight-year-old was one foul, nasty bastard on the first day, so I beat the shit out of Mikey and we became friends.
I picked him up, loaned him my snot rag to wipe the blood from his nose and he asked me. “Why’d you do that? What you got against me?” That was all Mikey could think of at the time. Nobody had ever dared to confront him. Why would they? He was a natural born killer… if not for his blatant cowardice.
“Ever had damn cod liver oil, kid?” We sat together on the school lunch table, outside in the yard, Mikey on the bench, me sitting above him on the table, all over-Lording as it should be.
“When I get this nose fixed up, I am gonna beat the crap out of you, kid.” Mikey sniffed hard and his nose started to bleed again.
“Shut up. We are gonna be buddies and that is that. Now, shut up or your nose’ll never stop bleedin’, kid. What’s your name?”
“Mike Candiotti. Yours?”
“You can call me Dillinger. Wop, huh?” I had a way with words even back then.
“What the hell’s a wop, Dillinger?”
I must admit that for an eight-year-old, I was rather worldly. My old father collected garbage; good job back then, I suppose. He was a garbage intellectual and when given the chance, he would always instruct me on the ways of the world.
“God damned wops never did much to help us, Son. Anzio, wops, dead comrades. Fucking wops!” My old father also had a way with words, you see.
Mikey and I were sworn in, our futures sealed, Semper Fi and all that.
“What the hell we gonna do if we get out of this shit hole, Dillinger?” Mikey sat with me – hot jungle sweat. The skeeters? We would need more’n a damn twelve gauge.
“Look at you, you dumb shit; you are covered in filth, mud up your ass, we are stuck here, you ever been hotter, ever been more shit scared, ever so fucking dirty, wet, fucked up in your life, Mikey? We are gonna be cops; hear me, Mikey?” I punched him just above the elbow, on the bone where it really hurts and wants to make you scream ‘oh fuck, that really hurts’. Mikey wanted to scream. He wanted to rip my head off and stuff it up my ass but that would have been suicide and he knew it, so he did not and I punched him again. Funny, but Mikey really could have ripped off my head and stuck it up my ass but he never did. Nope, throughout our childhood he never did.
“So what the fuck, Dillinger? Fucking cops?” Funny, well, maybe strange would be more apt, I suppose, but in situations of terror, it seems to me that we, at least Mikey and me, always reverted to things of our childhood. Maybe that is because we just had to hold onto something valid, something that made us sit down for a second or two inside ourselves, something to keep us from shitting in our pants? You may have had similar things happen to you and maybe you handled it differently, but really it was the same. I think you did probably, right?
“We are gonna be fucking cops because we can be clean. If we sweat, get dirty, we got uniforms to clean, not like these stinkin’ things we are wearing now. We ever gonna get these fucking uniforms clean again, Mikey? Ever? That is why we are gonna be cops. Make sense to you now?” I knew it did not yet it would eventually. Mikey was not a great thinker but I knew he would be a great cop, as I knew I would. Makes sense, right?
“I am proud of this uniform, Dillinger. You should be, as well!” Mikey continued to rub his elbow. He smiled because he knew that I had become disenchanted with our situation and that, even if I respected the uniform, I hated it with a heartfelt passion not known to most mortal men.
There were dead or dismembered on either side of us. We were alone and were not going to come out of this alive so I had decided we would both be cops. You see, I really loved my friend, Mikey and knew of his fear; I had already shit my pants.
“Let’s get the hell out of here, Mikey. Let’s just get the hell up and run.”
“Which way we gonna run, Dillinger? We are fucking dead, aren’t we?” Mikey also had a way with words. The thought crossed my mind that a way with words was what got us into this muddy shit-holed jungle crap.
“God-damn it, Mikey, one, two, three!” We stood and ran. True enough, we had no idea which direction to run but damn, we were running and running hard. Language is strange in certain situations such as this. We had no idea what was being yelled at us but we understood well enough. Funny how quickly you learn what is being screamed around you as mortars fall and the ground blows up as you run with shit in your pants. Strange, but true.
"I call you Mikey because I love you, brother. Never told you that before but I do. I was thinking about us, about war, about running. You remember running, don’t you, Mikey?” I could not help myself; I had to tell him. Never thought I would, you know, macho bullshit, never love a man; you might be a faggot if you do? Anyway, I loved Mikey; past tense I know, but I did.
“Dillinger, you need a rest. Ever thought about a fucking vacation, friend? You never have done – take a vacation I mean; might just be the right time.”
“You want another one? Course you do. Hey George, bring my lover here a double and a couple more beers, will ya?” George did a double take and brought the drinks.
“Say, Dillinger, why do you think, when I walk in this dump, that other cops steer clear of me?”
“Because you are not a real cop, Mikey. You are not one of them and you never will be.” I thought since it seemed to be truth-telling time and I was on a short leash, I might as well be honest. The ‘might as well be honest’ is interesting, don’t you think? I mean, it is like ‘to tell you the truth’ which implies that you have been, until this special moment, well, bullshitting. Know what I mean? Of course you do. At any rate, it was just the time and that was all there was to it.
“Jesus Christ, Dillinger, I walk in here to have a couple with you because I know you are here, kinda second home and all that crap. Suddenly you are getting all philosophical on me. I fucking told you that you needed a break and now I am sure of it. Why the hell don’t you take a vacation, Dillinger, and what the hell do you mean I am not a real cop?”
“Beats the hell out of me, friend, but you are not, and neither am I. If I can get enough hooch in me, maybe I can explain it. Right now, I am too fucking sober.” An odd statement to make as I had decided it was honest time, yet I still needed to get hammered; yes, very strange indeed but, hell, I am just about there, so why not, right?