Tuesday, March 29, 2011

RAT PACK REVUE: "Don's Dilemma" ~ By Eric Beetner of Harbinger*33

by Eric Beetner

Who doesn’t want to sit at the cool kids' table? I do. You do. If you say you don’t, you’re lying.

I know they started asking me around for yucks. They liked the way I could say the things they couldn’t. All I had to do was smile big and say, “Just kidding.” Somewhere in there it turned sour and this Jewish kid from New York ended up in a pickle.

See, the first time was like an initiation. You want to join the club, you pay the fee. I thought at first my payment was insulting the club owner when they couldn’t. He’d come by the table to be seen with The Summit and I’d hit him with, “Oh my God, look at you. Anyone else hurt in the accident?”

Everyone laughs, the owner has to smile and take it but he slinks back to his office to think of more ways to short change the boys and everyone’s happy, right?  

Then one night, probably early morning since that’s when Frank and them really came alive, the big guy pulls me aside.

The dancing girls had all gone home or up to the room with Dean. I remember watching Joey slink off with two girls, one a Japanese. I just shook my head and thought about the cramps I would get if I ever attempted acrobatics like that.

The band knocked off for the night so they’re piping in sleepy jazz like they want everyone to go home. In a way it’s kind of like the salty peanuts at the bar they put out to keep people thirsty and drinking all night. Sad slow songs at three a.m. make the lonely guys order another round to have something to cry into.

Frank calls me over as he lights another smoke from the butt end of the one in his hand. I put on my chipper face. The audience is gone, even the clinging vines that always grow on or around Frank. No need for me to pull any one-liners. I can put the schtick to rest. Just a little one-on-one with the big guy. What I’ve been waiting for.

“Donnie, Donnie you knocked ‘em dead tonight.”

“Thanks Frank. Thanks a million.”

“Hey, lemme ask you, you remember a girl a few weeks back? Legs up to here, redhead. Thousand watt smile?”

“I think so.” I knew her. A chorus girl who made a few extra shekels dancing at the Pink Panther under the name Candy Kane. I’m as likely to forget her as my own birthday.

“She’s a pain in my ass. Calling all the time. Won’t let one night fade into a beautiful memory. Wants to make it serious.”

“Dames, huh?” This is great. Frank trusting me with his girl problems. I’m part of the inner circle.

“Now she’s even saying something about being pregnant. It’s all bullshit, but still.”

“That’s too bad, Frank.”

“Yeah. If she goes to the press . . .” He pinched his fingers together and waved his hand like he’d just picked up something hot. I got the message. There is such a thing as bad publicity. “Anyway, the boys and I thought maybe you’d be the right kinda guy to take care of it for me.”

“Sure, sure Frank. But what can I do?”

“You can take care of it for me.”

“I know, but what do I say to her? I’m no psychiatrist. You want me to go over there, call her a hockey puck and hope she goes away?”

Frank leaned in, exhaling smoke as he did so his face parted a thick white cloud as he drew closer to me. His tanned skin looked less like an angel descending from clouds than a devil rising through steam.

“I want you,” he paused for emphasis. “To take care of it for me.”

I sat there letting the smoke sting my eyes but not wanting to look away. It slowly came to me. Take care of it meant . . . I knew what it meant. 

So I took care of it. 

It wasn’t pretty. What can I say, I’m a New York Jew, we don’t know from digging in the desert. That’s what we pay the Mexicans for. So there I am digging in the sand and wondering how deep I have to go. 

In the end I went down enough to fit the body but still ended up with a mound of dirt like a fat boil on the ass of Nevada. And let’s face it, if America has a rear end, Nevada is it and Las Vegas is the asshole.

I was far enough out into the desert that I figured I’d be safe. I think I covered my tracks well enough. What did I know? It was the first time I’d ever been more than a hundred yards away from a stiff drink and a fresh bagel.

The whole time I’m thinking, “I’m in like Flynn,” just to keep my mind off what I’m doing. I had a dog once, when I was ten. Died in our apartment so I took it down to the East river and threw it in. That was the sum total of my experience in disposing of a body until then.

And now here I am again. 

Things were great for a few months. Frank and the boys were good to me. They called me over to the table by name, not just saying, “Hey funny boy,” the way they used to.

Frank even picked me up one night in his sweet Dual Ghia. I swear I’ve never been sexually attracted to a car before but that thing’s body was better than Angie Dickenson, who happened to be in the back seat at the time.

Dean even arranged a few blow-jobs for me. I’m pretty sure I was getting his sloppy seconds but what am I gonna do, say no? Dean has a bad time with whiskey dick and he hates to see a girl with talent go to waste to when he couldn’t get it up, he sent them my way. Here’s a tip for you: avoid booth 33 at the Tropicana. Or if you go there, bring your own Lysol.

It was a week ago Frank sat me down again for another one-on-one. He starts going on and on about a club owner who backed out of a deal for a two month stand for him and Dean and Sammy. Why anyone would want to back out on a sure money maker I don’t know, but he said he had his reasons. 

The point is, an insult was made. The implication was that the boys couldn’t sell out the room. Word had gotten out that the deal was imminent and then, poof! It goes away. Eggs on faces all around.

He asked if I would “take care” of it.

I knew it was no question. 

So first off I can’t even remember how to get back out to where Candy Kane is and second, do I really want to start my own cemetery? 

And pissing off Frank? Not an option. I didn’t want to be given the full Peter Lawford. The coldest of cold shoulders. Hell, for all I know someone could be getting ready to take care of me right now. 

Walking out of that meeting with Frank made me realize I was still a clown to them. They’d convene The Summit and do their thing and then come down from the mountain to the rest of us. I’ll always be laughing boy to them. Good for a few yucks and the occasional errand.

So what’s a nice Jewish boy to do?

It’s two a.m. and the chorus girls have turned back into pumpkins. The light is still on in his office. The lights of Las Vegas never go out. I have my trusty shovel. 

Bishop is back at the hotel practicing his acrobatics, Dean is passed out with his limp dick in his hands. Frank’s probably still chatting up the Farrow broad, whatever he sees in her. Flat as a two-by-four and a personality to match.

Do I give up my seat at the cool kids table? I’m already in show business so you can’t say I’m not that kind of guy. If I have a good set I say, “I really killed ‘em out there tonight. Man, I slayed ‘em.”

The guy’s got a target on his back in the first place because he didn’t do what Frank wanted. Am I that dumb that I’ll take the target off his back and put it on mine?

I just wanna make people laugh. That’s all I ever wanted to do. Some people have said my act is all about repressed hostility and rage. I kinda feel like the rage is all right there on the top. But, anyway, I think I have plenty of hostility to repress. 

Time to go let some of it out. Don’t blame me if it helps to picture Frank’s face while I do it. It might make me tug a little harder on the rope, maybe knock a few seconds off his time before he kicks off. You’re telling me the girls aren’t picturing Dean when I’m getting my secondhand BJ? They sure ain’t picturing this mug.

So maybe I have to dig a little deeper this time. Maybe I have to drive a little farther out. Maybe Frank will set me up with one of those Dual Ghia’s for my trouble, or at least a a night with Angie.

I’m another in a long line of proud court jesters. Close to the king but disposable, unless we entertain and amuse. And other things, so I found out.

Part of the gig, I suppose. 

Lights off. Here he comes. Excuse me, I gotta go take care of something.

ERIC BEETNER ~ CoAuthor with JB Kohl of ONE TOO MANY BLOWS TO THE HEAD and BORROWED TROUBLE, which rips the noir heart cold out of the stripped glam of old LA . . . (see that naked truth for yourself - books for sale in the Amazon galleria AT THE BIJOU to your right). Eric creates crimes on paper, as he says, and has the speed of thought to stay one step ahead of the law -- he's that fast to do justice to the written word. The beat of Beetner's genre abounds ~ You'll find his hard hitting smooth style of crime fiction in short stories, novels, screenplays and of course interesting POV in the rough and tough notebook sheet entries that let us know where his shadows are leaning these days ~ right here

Eric's Left Not-Quite-The-Coast Crime report #1 shares what's up in Santa Fe on book signings, e-books, crime-writer panels and more, all while steering clear of turquoise and Navaho rugs (you'll have to ask Eric directly about that). His direct style was no shot in the dark when it came to his interview query of our featured Rat Pack Mysteries author, Robert J Randisi:

As for a question for Mr. Randisi ~

Eric Beetner, crime writer

You've been at this for a long time. We all know how publishing has changed and is changing under our feet but I want to know how the writing has changed, in your opinion? What is the biggest difference between a crime novel now and one, say, thirty years ago?

ERIC BEETNER  I commit crimes on paper.

RJ RANDISI expounds
        That's a great question. I'd like to give it more thought. But for now I think the difference is realism. And, I think, the intelligence of both the criminal element and the cops contributes to that. The writer has to reflect that in his work, so the writers have also had to become smarter, and better.  And if you're now going to ask me if I think the writers of today are smarter than those of yesterday, the answer is yes. Smarter, and better educated--but that doesn't necessarily make them better. Not as a whole.    

~ ~ ~ ~ ~




Sunday Matinees too.

Be there or be square.


Always swell to see you here.

~ Absolutely*Kate,
and our swanky renown


Sinatra: "If power doesn't mean that you have the opportunity to work with the people that you love, then you haven't really got any."

Opening Night: "RAT PACK REVUE TO YOU"

RAT PACK REVUE: "How Did All These People Get Into My Room?"  By Robert J Randisi,
working the lounge before he hits the main room

RAT PACK REVUE: "Ain't That A Kick In The Head"  By Robert J Randisi, paying homage to Ocean's 11, the original . . . for all the right reasons

RAT PACK REVUE:  "Who's Got The Action" By Kevin Michaels, knowin' more than the night club scene  

RAT PACK REVUE:  "STAR" By Julie Morgan,  hitchin' TinselTown to a dick's star

RAT PACK REVUE:  "OH SOUL O'MIO" By Absolutely*Kate,  mirroring where scars shine bright

RAT PACK REVUE:  "Divorce Your Loved One With Dignity" By Anthony Venutolo,  oozing atmosphere, over the border
RAT PACK REVUE:  "Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime" By Paul D Brazill, giving Dino a whole new swan song  

RAT PACK REVUE:  "THE GREAT AMERICAN SAILING HERO" By Absolutely*Kate, scuttling the way the tides roll in





~ ~ ~ ~

You're nobody til somebody love you,
and we love you AT THE BIJOU.
~ ~ ~ ~


Paul D Brazill said...

A Rickle of applause to Eric for that smashing yarn!

Harry said...

"ended up with a mound of dirt like a fat boil on the ass of Nevada." <Great line!

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Great job Eric. That was entertaining as hell!

Kevin Michaels said...

Great story - I can pretty much visualize Rickles out there in the desert with a shovel (bitching like he did in Kelly's heroes). Think you captured his voice very well and wrote a fun, entertaining story!

Eric Beetner said...

Thanks everyone. Writing as a known personality was tough. Glad to know I didn't blow it completely.
This has been a really fun pack of stories.

Anonymous said...

Eric, this was very entertaining. I could visualize and hear the production. Loved the one liners.


KjM said...

From the first "Who doesn’t want to sit at the cool kids' table?" all the way through, this was impossible to put down till I reached the end.

Grim, gritty and surprisingly funny in places. I loved the line, "But, anyway, I think I have plenty of hostility to repress."

But that was only one of many.

Excellent fare.

Author said...

Absolutely terrific tale, and beautifully told. Nice work!

Madam Z said...

I could actually see and hear Don Rickles, as I read this. It's a clever story, Eric, with great one-liners and a sad premise.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Beetner felt like I was shovelling dirt and enjoying the charms of booth 33. Forgot my Lysol but Im lighting up and zipping up after that terrific ride.You are definitely sloopy firsts in my book!!

ratatouille's archives said...

Hi! The Absolutely~Kate and author Eric Beetner...
That was a very interesting read and quite funny too!
I'am not to familiar with the "Rat Pack," but I have read and "overheard" enough about them to know that your post hit the mark that it was aiming at...The readers, interests.

Thanks, for sharing, Eric Beetner...Hi!The Absolutely~Kate, I'am glad I stopped by...Because I started to follow you, over there on Tumblr too!
Take care!
DeeDee ;-D

RJR said...

Nice job, Eric. Very nice lines. I just hope Rickles never sees it. There's probably still room out there in the desert for another boil.