Uncle Tony’s Charter School: Part 5

Illustration by Sean Wang

a satire by Christopher Paslay

When beloved high school principal Dominic Rossetti is forced to open a charter school so his uncle Tony, an organized crime boss, can embezzle the money to fund a strip club, Dom is thrown into a humorous yet tragic situation: he is compelled to run his uncle’s bogus charter school while trying to educate Philadelphia’s children.

Part 5 of 25

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While all this was going on at the school, while Dom was working on the accreditation and changing the lives of all the colored kids and helping their moms and dads get involved in their educations and safety, a whole buncha stuff was happening in Dom’s personal life.  I told you’s guys a little about the award dinners and his addiction meetings, but I never told about Chastity O’Connell, the broad that the Kid was seeing for nine months and was head over heels for.  In my personal opinion, Chastity O’Connell was the whole reason why the Kid got all mixed up wit my brother Tony to begin wit, even though the Kid was man enough in the end to take responsibility for the whole thing hisself.

The Kid met Chastity in the beginning of 2011 at an education conference at the Convention Center in downtown Philly.  They was both there to hear some University of Penn professor give a talk about the, ah, inequalities of funding in poor urban school districts.  Like I said before, the Kid was big on making sure the coloreds got a fair shot at having a good education and life and such, and this O’Connell chick was the same way.  Helping the poor coloreds and Puerto Ricans was kinda what brought the two a them together and helped them bond I guess you could say.

According to what Dom said at our meetings, this broad was all wet for him, at least at first.  The Kid was I think 39 years old then, stocky, wit a full head a dark hair; O’Connell was a 31-year-old high school French teacher.  Dom said this O’Connell broad was hot for him cause he was a bit older and successful and whatnot, and just loved that he worked at a school that was fulla coloreds.  The Kid was all excited about this, all excited; he never had a real, long-term relationship in his whole life and always wanted one.  So when this broad went after him, flirted wit him and got his number and started calling his cellphone every friggin night, the Kid was in heaven.  She was a genuine piece of ass, so you couldn’t really blame the Kid.  She was an attractive brunette wit one a those short bob haircuts, a tattoo of a butterfly on her wrist and an eyebrow ring.  She was super friendly and when you was around her you thought she wanted to screw you, but she didn’t, that was just her personality.

She was screwing the Kid, though, no doubt about it.  At meetings he, ah . . . what’s the word . . . alluded to it, but never gave details.  He was in love wit her and said it wasn’t right for him to go talking about the sex he had wit Chastity—he respected her too much—but it was easy for everybody in our famb’ly and all the guys at the meetings to see she was pumping his brains out.  We all thought, Good for the Kid.  Let him get some action and clean out his pipes.  I vividly remember how happy he was, how he had this rosy glow, an even brighter glow than the one he had when he told the success stories about his students, about how the coloreds could write these crazy good essays and how the slow kids was planting zucchinis in the back garden.  And why shouldn’t the Kid have been happy?  He was turning around Eisenhower and kicking butt as their principal, improving state test scores and lowering violence and coming down the home stretch wit the accreditation; Eisenhower only had one last audit to pass from the Eastern Association of Academics and Schools.  He was also making a good salary, something like $125,000 a year, had rebuilt his credit and was living in a $1,800 a month loft condo in Northern Liberties—complete wit hardwood floors and exposed brick and a big old skylight.  He’d decked his place out wit leather couches, oriental throw rugs, and these beautiful oil paintings he bought from local artists who had studios in the neighborhood.  On top a that he dressed real sharp, too, in nice suits and sharp leather shoes from Clarks and Bostonian; I guess me and Tony kinda wore off on him a little bit.

His most prized possession, though, was his 2005 Porsche 911 Turbo S., which according to his journal, he bought used in 2007 for $78,000.  He parked it across the street from his condo in his reserved parking spot that cost him $150 a month.  Now, since I’m talking about the Kid’s Porsche . . . and Chastity O’Connell, I didn’t forget about her . . . I’m gonna talk about the weekend in October of 2011 when he got the title in the mail from Chase Bank that said he was the proud owner a the Porsche.  That weekend was the highest point of his life at the time, and, as he’d tell the guys later on at meetings, it was also the lowest.

It was the high point for lots a reasons, but mainly cause the Kid was madly in love wit Chastity and was preparing to propose to her; he’d even went out and spent a wad a cash on a pear-shaped diamond engagement ring set in 18 karat white gold.  He was gonna propose to her on the beach at sunset on the night of his best friend Donny’s wedding.  There was one sticking point, though—the wedding was in Atlantic City; the Kid had a gambling problem so A.C. prob’ly wasn’t the best place for him to go.  Course, it was his best friend getting married, and the Kid was the best man, so there was no way he was gonna miss it.  Plus, the Kid hadn’t gambled in almost 14 years, and had a plan in place before he went.  He talked about this plan—to stay outta the casinos, point blank— at our meetings the whole week before, ran it by Gordon W., his sponsor, too.  Gordon said he didn’t think A.C. would be a problem for the Kid, so long as he knew he could call Gordon on his cellphone at any time, day or night, if he even had the slightest urge to go within ten feet of a casino or place a bet.

So on Friday at noon . . . the Kid took a half day from school . . . he drove his candy apple red Porsche 911 Turbo S. to Atlantic City, radar detector beeping on the dash, travel bag and newly pressed navy twill suit in the backseat, diamond ring in his pocket cause he didn’t trust hisself putting it in his bag.  He beat rush hour and made great time, and checked into his room at the Trump Taj Mahal three hours before Donny’s bachelor party was supposed to begin.  That was the schedule, see: the bachelor party Friday night wit just the guys, and the wedding Saturday afternoon wit the wives coming up first thing that morning to put on their faces and dresses and get ready.  Chastity was coming extra early Saturday so her and the Kid could have a romantic breakfast at Plate, go back to the room to have a little morning delight, shower, toss off their towels and hit the bedroom for round two, shower again . . . this time separately . . . get dressed for real this time, and go to the wedding; that’s at least what the Kid wrote was supposed to happen in his journal.

At the wedding, cause he was the best man, the Kid would have to walk down the aisle wit Donny’s sister, and he would also have to take the ring from the ring bearer and give it to Donny—his best friend since they met playing C.Y.O. football in the fifth grade.  The part that made the Kid nervous, besides thinking about proposing to Chastity, was giving the toast at the reception.  He’d been working on it for weeks and even asked some of the English teachers at Eisenhower to help him wit the wording.  The problem the Kid was having was that every time he sat down to write the toast he got thinking about Chastity and how he was gonna propose to her during Donny’s reception, how he was gonna ask her to come outside for a minute to watch the sunset—not from the boardwalk out back a the Taj but right on the beach.  The Kid had it all worked out, see.  Him and Chastity would cut outta the reception for a quick second, take off their shoes and socks and walk barefoot across the beach right up to the water, the girl holding her dress up so it wouldn’t get wet, the Kid taking the ring outta his pocket, kneeling down on one knee in the sand and popping the question.  When they went back inside, giggling and teary-eyed, the Kid would make a second toast, this time announcing that him and the girl just got engaged.

That’s what the Kid would think about when he tried to write the toast.  Luckily, though, one a his best English teachers helped him get it written, and the Kid was ready to let it rip right on cue.

The Kid didn’t get in no trouble at the bachelor party.  It was a relatively calm night, cause Donny and the Kid and most a their friends was all in their late 30’s wit real jobs and wives and famb’lies of their own, which meant they was outta shape when it came to partying and drinking and such.  There was about a dozen guys who made it down to A.C. that night, and they all met up at this boardwalk pub the Kid had picked out where they had some beers and pizza.  Soon the party moved back to the Kid’s hotel room, cause he was the best man, and there they ate chicken wings and drank bottles a Coors Light and watched the baseball playoffs on TV.  At around 11:00 p.m., a colored stripper showed up to the room wit some guy wearing a Dallas Cowboys jersey wit the name “Brotha Man” on the back and a gun on his hip . . . he was this broad’s pimp, I guess . . . and she did her thing for an hour and left.  At this point all the guys went downstairs to gamble and play the slots except for the Kid, who started cleaning his hotel room up to get it ready for Chastity who was gonna be there at 8:00 the next morning.  After this the Kid called Gordon W. just to check in wit him and tell how it was going.  The conversation went something like this, according to the Kid’s journal:

“So you made it,” Gordon says to Dom.

“I made it,” the Kid says.  He was turning over the ring in his pocket as he talked.

“Good for you,” Gordon says.  “See, you hadda plan, and you stuck to it.  Congratulations.”

“Thanks.”  The Kid pulled the ring outta his pocket, started staring at it.  “I’m gonna propose to Chastity tomorrow,” he says all of a sudden.  Now, the Kid said he wasn’t planning on telling nobody until Saturday night after the deed was done, but he was too excited and hadda share the news.  “I’m gonna do it tomorrow during the reception.  I gotta find a way to get Chastity to leave the reception and take a walk on the beach at sunset.  Man . . . I’m really nervous.  You think I can pull it off?”

“Woa, you’re getting married!  Congratulations, brother!”

“Thanks,” the Kid says, and started feeling nervous like he just jinxed everything.  “Thanks, Gordon, thanks for everything.  For all your help over the years.”

“Hey, no problem.”

“Look, it’s getting late . . . I got a big day tomorrow . . .”

“Yes you do,” Gordon says.

And the Kid says, “Yeah, well, I’m gonna hang now, but thanks.  Tell Jill I said hi, okay?”

“Absolutely.  Congrats again, Dom.  Call me tomorrow with the good news when it’s official.”

“Will do,” the Kid says.

Then he hung up.  Now, I don’t know exactly what he did then, but I bet he prob’ly played wit the ring some more before putting it back in its case, went to the bathroom to brush his teeth, and went to bed.  He didn’t write about any a that in his journal, or talk about it at meetings; the entry ended there.

The next day, though, he wrote a journal entry that went on for at least a dozen pages, on and on in this handwriting that was, ah, barely legible.  Now, I’m gonna talk about that part, and try to keep as much a the details as possible—at least what I can remember.  So the Kid couldn’t sleep that night, not a friggin wink.  He kept tossing and turning and getting up to get a drink of water and walk around the room and look outta the window at the ocean and the beach where he was gonna ask Chastity O’Connell to marry him.  And when his alarm went off at 7:00 in the morning, his eyes was all red and stingy from not sleeping, but he was excited and didn’t care; it was nothing some coffee and eye drops couldn’t fix.

So he got up and showered and got dressed and took the ring out and put it in his jeans pocket and practiced in his room popping the question, practiced getting down on one knee and all that.  Time was moving slow for the Kid, cause he was so excited.  He said the next hour felt like a day, and he kept checking his watch, wondering when Chastity was gonna get there.  At 8:15 she still wasn’t there, and he figured she’d hit some traffic.  At 8:30 he decided to give her a quick call but she didn’t answer her cellphone.  At 9:00 he was starting to get worried and called her again, but she still didn’t answer so he left a message: Hey babe.  Dom here.  Call me when you get this.  Love you.  Bye.  At 10:00 he was frantic and starting to wig out, cause he was sure something bad had happened to her—maybe a car accident or a heart attack or a whatdoyacallit . . . brain embolism . . . and just when he was seriously considering calling Chastity’s mother to see if she knew anything, the Kid’s cellphone rang.

It was Chastity’s name on the caller I.D.

“Hello,” the Kid says.  “Chastity?”

There was this long silence—the Kid was clear about this in his journal—and finally Chastity says, “Hey, Dom.”

“Oh my God,” the Kid says, “I was starting to get worried.  Where are you?”

“Still at home,” Chastity says.  “I didn’t leave yet.”

“You didn’t leave yet?  What?  Why not?”

And Chastity says, “Cause.  I’m not gonna make it to see you today.”

And the Kid says, all alarmed and disappointed, “What?  Why not?  What’s the matter, babe?”

“Dom,” she says, “we gotta talk.”

And then she just told him straight out, just told the Kid everything, straight out.  The Kid didn’t hear what she was saying at first cause his mind lost the ability to concentrate and everything was a blur.  He didn’t really hear what she was saying at all until the girl said the words I’m married—that’s when the Kid started listening to what she was saying.

“You’re married?’ the Kid says, and the girl says yeah, she is, she’s been married for three years . . . her husband almost found out about the two a them and she got all freaked out and saw the light and knew it was time to end it . . . end the affair they was having.  The girl said she was sorry, so sorry, but there was nothing she could do about it; she still loved her husband and that was it.  Dom said he couldn’t remember much else about the call except that it felt like he was outside his body listening to someone else talking, that the whole thing didn’t seem real.  The only thing he said he knew was that it was clear that Chastity wasn’t lying, that she was really married and that it was over between the two a them.  At that point Dom said his hotel room got all swimmy, that everything lost color and shifted to black-and-white and whatnot, and that he didn’t feel real anymore.

He said he just sat down on the bed for a long time, just sat and stared out in space.  He said his cellphone rang and he didn’t answer it.  He said there was a block a time he couldn’t remember, that he mighta been laying under the covers on his bed for a bit, and that the phone kept ringing—his cellphone and his room phone.  Then there was a knock on his hotel room door, pounding on the door, and he got up to answer it.

It was Donny, and he says, “Yo, bro, where you been, man?  Where’s Chastity?”

The Kid said he just made something up, said Chastity got sick or something.

“That sucks,” Donny says, “you okay?”

The Kid just nodded.

“Well it’s time to get ready,” Donny says.  “Let’s get dressed and hit the hotel bar for some pregame drinks.”

The Kid said he got dressed in a fog like a robot, put on his suit—one leg then the other, one arm then the other—and tried to act normal.  He said he told hisself he hadda act normal so he didn’t frig up Donny’s wedding, and so Dom just put on this big smile and tried not to say much; when people talked to him, he just nodded and smiled.  He nodded and smiled and followed Donny down to the hotel bar, let Donny get him a shot and a beer; it was then the Kid started to feel better.  The alcohol brought some a the color back to things, though the lobby was still a fog, the Kid said.  Other guys was there now, other guys wit their wives.  The Kid kept smiling and acting like things was normal, giving hugs and shaking hands.  Some people asked where Chastity was, and the Kid said she got this real bad stomach bug and couldn’t make it.  Sorry to hear that, they said.

Somehow, the Kid made it through the wedding.  He just kept smiling and nodding and drinking a buncha vodka tonics.  The Kid wasn’t a big drinker, so he was nice and comfortably, um, numb, like that song by that band, Pink something.  The Kid said watching Donny saying his vows made him feel better, but it also made him feel sad and alone.  The Kid said that the whole room was fulla people, people that he’d known for years, but for some reason he felt a million miles away, cut off from everybody—all a his buddies—who was proud and happy wit their beautiful wives.

The reception followed the wedding in a big old banquet room in the Taj.  The Kid was at the main wedding party table, so no one really noticed that Chastity wasn’t there.  The Kid kept ordering drinks and smiling and nodding at everybody.  Time was a blur and all of a sudden it was time for Dom to give the toast—which he actually nailed, brought down the house—cause he was an experienced principal who talked in front a people for a living; he said he had no nerves cause he was so lubed-up from the drinks.  Everybody stood and clapped, all impressed over his fine speech about how Donny and his new wife Stephanie was soul mates and would spend all these happy years together . . . even Donny’s grandma was in tears, the Kid said . . . and right then the Kid saw his chance to jet and took it, just bolted; he smiled and nodded his way the frig outta the reception, down the hall to the nearest exit doors which led him outside to the boardwalk.  The sun was setting, right over the Atlantic Ocean, and this was too much for the Kid.  He burst out crying, hard, and walked out on the beach barefoot, holding his shoes in his hand.  He stayed there a while, saying he felt completely alone in the universe even though there was moms and dads and little kids flying kites at the edge a the ocean.

The cry cleared his head, the Kid said.  He got some a his strength back.  He left the beach and put on his shoes and was planning on going up to his room and getting his stuff and checking out right then, but when he put his hand in his pocket to get his key card, he felt the box, the friggin goddamned ring box.  Now, this is where the Kid says in his journal that his sad feelings turned to angry feelings—boom, just like that.  He said just like that he was mad, mad as you wouldn’t believe.  Did that bitch actually say she was married? the Kid asked hisself.  She did.

Dom said he knew right there he hadda get rid a that friggin ring, was actually gonna run back on the beach and throw it the frig into the ocean, but he thought better of it.  He’d spent a wad a cash on it, and he wasn’t gonna lose all a that money.  So without further . . . what’s the word . . . debate, he just went down the boardwalk to the nearest pawn shop and hocked the freakin thing, hocked it for exactly $5,000—which was only half a what he paid for it.  Course, it didn’t matter; that was plenty a cash to play wit in the casino, where he’d known he’d end up going all along . . . at least since the phone call wit that lying bitch Chastity.

In Dom went, it wasn’t hard.  Right into the Taj, right to the roulette wheel.  It was like second nature to him, like no time had passed.  He put $200 on black—that’s how he said he was feeling—and lost.  Put another $200 on black.  Lost again.  He was pissed now, super pissed.  He said he was gonna put $200 on black until he won, see, cause it all made sense now.  It hadda be black, cause that was Chastity, just a black spot, a black, heartless cunt; these is the Kid’s words in his journal, not mine.  He lost five more times until he finally won.  Course, it didn’t matter, cause he won, see.  He was back.  He was down $1,200, but he was back.  It felt good, the Kid said.  It was good to be back.  That whole gray fog lifted and everything came into sharp focus wit lots a color.  The casino, the Kid said, was beautiful, the colors and sounds of the slots, the clank of coins, the click and snap of the cards being dealt.

He lost more money on roulette—won some but lost more—and then went over to play blackjack, which was where he was gonna get his groove on.  The Kid went right to the $100 table, no friggin screwing around.  He got hot and won back a buncha his cash and some people came over and started watching, and he was getting comped a buncha drinks.  The Kid said he was focused now, in his . . . his zone.  He kept playing and lost track a time.  He glanced down at the table and somehow, somehow, he was on his last $100 chip; this didn’t make any sense cause he was sure we was actually winning but no, no, no, that was it, the Kid was outta cash.

Course, the Kid thought he was just rusty.  He could win it back, he could, see, it was possible.  He went over to the casino cashier and bought $1,500 in chips which was the limit on his Visa Gold card; he’d set this limit on his card years ago cause he knew he had a gambling problem.  He got fifteen $100 chips and went back to the blackjack game where he’d left off.  Things I guess went a little better this time, or so the Kid thought.  He played for a while, at least an hour, but somehow, somehow, the same thing happened: he was down to his last chip.  He lost it on the next hand and went over to the ATM and this time used his bank card and took out the maximum he could from his checking account, which was $300.  Recharged, he played the slots, and more blackjack at a $10 table, and more slots, until somehow, somehow, the $300 was gone.

The Kid was drunk now, he wrote in his journal.  A good numb drunk.  The high from the gambling was fading, though, and the Kid was, um, obsessed wit chasing it.  He left the casino floor and went to his car to get the emergency $20 from the glove compartment.  He had it all figured out, see.  He’d ride that twenty bucks, you betcha, for all it was worth.  He fumbled to get his car keys outta his pocket, finally found them and unlocked his car wit the press of a button.  The door to his shiny apple red Porsche popped open and he went to the glove box and opened that up.  His mail, the envelops and such that he’d grabbed from the letterbox on his way up to A.C. yesterday afternoon, fell on the floor.  The Kid said in his journal that he stared at it real hard cause he’d forgot what it was, but then he remembered.  His mail, dah.  How dumb a the Kid.  Junk mail . . . Men’s Wearhouse circulars and such garbage . . . and, oh yeah, the title to his Porsche, look at that.  He stared at the title for a moment, and made his decision, it wasn’t hard.  The next thing he knew he was driving his Porsche to the same pawn shop he’d brought the girl’s ring to, the Kid did.  He handed the title to the guy behind the counter and said something like, I forget his exact words, “How much can I get for this?”

The guy gave the Kid $35,000.  Now it was a pawn, not a sale, so the Kid had 30 days to repay—wit interest—the $35,000 to get his Porsche back.  No problem, the Kid figured, which is what he thought at the time and later wrote in his journal.  All he hadda do was win back the . . . what was it . . . $6,800 he’d blown on the roulette and blackjack tables and he was home free; he’d walk away even steven, no big deal.

Course, it was a big deal, a big goddamn deal.

_______

The Kid went back to the Taj wit the fat wad a cash in his pocket.  He got $10,000 in chips just to start.  No sense in changing all the money into chips, since he was gonna just break even and then head back to his room.  Now, to just speed through the story here, the Kid basically gambled for hours until he was down to his last $2,000.  He’d gotten comped tons a drinks and coupons to breakfast places and even a friggin free room—a suite at the top a the Taj, if you can believe that.  At something like 4:00 in the morning, the Kid was all polluted but still going strong, still putting stacks a them $100 chips down on the table.  But while this was going on, see, there was this broad kinda standing next to him, this younger broad wit long blond hair and silver platform heels and a long blue dress wit a slit on the side so you could see her legs when she walked. Her cleavage was all showing, Dom wrote, kinda right in his, ah, line a vision.

She was a hooker, a prostitute, the Kid understood.  He was drunk but she still caught his eye, he said, got him half hard and excited.  She smelled good, that’s what the Kid really remembered.  She’d been talking to the Kid and making comments about his bets, wincing when he’d lose a big hand and giving him a little friendly elbow when he won a hand.  Dom said he thought she might even be a comp from the Taj, too, no fooling around, the Kid really believed this.  Either way, though, the Kid knew he was gonna take her up to his free suite at the top a the Taj and lay her on the bed and bend her slutty feet back behind her ears and pound her mound for hours . . . pound her little blond twat from behind . . . give her a whole buncha kinky orders, tell her to use her tongue and mouth and everything.  After all, it was 4:00 in the morning and the Kid was stinking drunk and down almost $40,000.  That was the situation, the whole rotten situation.

So the Kid says something like, “You wanna go up to my penthouse suite?”

And the hooker says, “Did you blow all of your money, honey?  Or did you save some for having fun?”

“I saved some,” the Kid says.  “I got about two grand left.”

And the hooker says, “Okey-dokey,” and then the Kid grabbed his last chips and took the hooker by the arm and the two got in the elevator and went up to Dom’s free hotel room.  It doesn’t say in Dom’s journal if they fooled around on the elevator or if they even screwed at all.  Personally, I don’t think they did, cause Dom was really drunk and depressed and all that, so I doubt he was ready to do all the things he said he was thinking about doing.  The thing I do know, though—what he clearly wrote in his journal—is that when he went into the bathroom to piss, there was a loud thump on his door, and all of a sudden the cops was raiding his hotel room. They came in hollering and telling the Kid and the hooker to put their hands up on their heads and kneel down on the floor.

They handcuffed the Kid, and, what’s the word . . . escorted him down the hall onto the elevator, through the casino and into a squad car.  They shoved him, pushing his head down so they could fit him into the back seat a the cop car.  They took him to the police station and before tossing him into a holding cell, stripped off all his clothes, threw everything outta his pockets and dumped out the stuff inside his wallet, and even had him bend over for a body cavity search.  After that they booked him—took his fingerprints and mug shot.  The Kid wrote in his journal that he was so drunk and exhausted he didn’t even care, that he just wanted to lay down and go to sleep, which he did, right on the hard metal cot in the holding cell.

When he woke up, there was a cop telling him he could make a phone call if he wanted.

_______

That was at 10:00 in the morning, the phone call was.  Twelve hours later, by 10:00 that night, the Kid was home in his own bed sleeping like a friggin little cherub, his fingerprints and mug shot destroyed, his arrest record wiped clean.  In the reserved spot across the street from his condo was parked his candy apple red Porsche 911 Turbo S.  Course, this was compliments of me and my brother Tony.  See, when the Kid made his phone call he dialed the number of none other than his uncle Manny, which was the smartest thing he coulda done.  He called me early that Sunday morning all panicky and frantic saying he was in a real frigged up situation, that he was in some jail in A.C., that he gambled away his Porsche, and that life as he’d known it—his days as the principal a Eisenhower, for one—was over.  He told me all a this in one long rambling breath, like he didn’t have much time on the phone.

I hadda tell him to say it again cause I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

“You got locked up?” I says.  “You’re in friggin jail now?”

“Yeah,” he says.  “You gotta help me, uncle Manny.  I need a lawyer.  You know anybody I can talk to?”

“You’re in jail?  Right now?  In A.C.?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Fuck.  Okay, lemme think about this.”  It wasn’t hard to figured it out, though.  We had people, a whole mess a people, in A.C.  I’d just need to make a few phone calls, most likely starting wit my brother Tony, to see what I could do.  I asked the Kid where he was exactly, and he told me he was at the Public Safety Building in a holding cell, and that these scumbag cops strip searched him and took all the stuff outta his pockets and wallet and threw it all over the place.  He said they took his picture and finger printed him, too.  He had the worst hangover in his entire life, he said, and already puked on the floor.

“Okay,” I says to him.  “Just relax.  I’m gonna call your uncle Tony.  We got some people down there, and I think they can help.  But listen, kid.  You gotta do one thing for me, okay?  You listening?”

“Yeah,” the Kid says.  “I’m listening.”

“Good.  Now, when you hang up the phone wit me, you gotta tell those scumbag cops that you know Jerry D’Alessandro, understand?  I don’t care what these jag-knobs say their gonna do, just tell them you know Jerry.”

“Who’s Jerry D’Alessandro?”

“He’s a friend a your uncle Tony,” I says.  “He makes Pete the Gorilla look like a sissy pole-smoker.”

“What if they don’t know this guy Jerry?”

“You see . . . we’re off to a bad start here.  Do you want me to help you or not, kid?”

“I want you to help me.”

“Then shut the frig up and do what I says.  These douchebag cops will know Jerry, believe me.  Everybody down there friggin knows Jerry.  When a guy takes a baseball bat to a freakin judge’s head, people don’t forget it.  Tell the cops that you know Jerry and Joel Gelles.  City Councilman Joel Gelles.”

“Joel Gelles?”

“Yeah,” I says.  “Gelles owes Tony.  Big time.  So drop Gelles’ name and D’Alessandro’s name.  If these cops ask how you know them, just admit that Tony Genitaglia is your uncle.  They’ll open their friggin ears and start listening real quick.  They may even start treating you wit a little bit a respect.  You getting all this, kid?”

“Yeah.  I got it.”

“You gonna do what I says?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“You guess?” I says.  “You guess?  Look, you can do what you want, kid.  But you need to make up your mind.  While you is wasting time trying to decide the clock is ticking, see.  You ever hear a something called ‘police notes’?  Well, right now some piss ant newspaper reporter is prob’ly sticking his friggin nose in your business as we speak.  Looking for some muck to rake up and stick on the front page.  Use your head, kid.  If we don’t do something now, forgetaboutit.  All those colored kids at that school a yours?  Gone.  See ya.  You won’t be their principal no more.  You won’t be a principal nowhere.  So you need to figure this out.  If you do what I tell you to do, you’ll prob’ly be fine.  You gotta slow these pricks down while I make a few phone calls, though.  Do we read each other, kid?”

The Kid said he was straight, had his shit together.

“I hope so.”

I hung up the phone wit the Kid and thought he was toast, God’s honest truth.  I didn’t think he had the balls to do what I told him.  I knew we could take care a most of it, but those newspaper maggots were prob’ly already putting his picture in the Atlantic City Register, and from there the story a the Kid getting caught wit a prostitute would work its way to the pages a the Philadelphia Post.  And that would be it for the Kid.

Course, the Kid did do what I told him to do, and that didn’t happen.  It almost happened, but it didn’t.  A prick police beat writer for the Register actually started a little squib about the Kid’s arrest, but it got squashed by none other than the A.C. police themselves.

So, the Kid does what he’s supposed to do.  He tells the cops that he knows Jerry D’Alessandro and Joel Gelles and to top it all off, that Tony was his uncle.  In his journal the Kid wrote that the younger cop, the one that had Dom bend over and spread open his asshole, tried to test him to see if it was true, and started shaking his head, saying, “Nice try, buddy.  Where’d you hear of those guys, the Internet?”

But the Kid stuck to it, saying, “Tony Genitaglia is my mother’s brother.  Her last name is Rossetti, like mine.  Look it up.  I’m sure you’ll be getting a call from Joel Gelles’s office soon.  When he calls, you can tell him how you’s sexually assaulted me and violated my rights.”

About an hour later, before the Kid was arraigned and before the two-paragraph newspaper story went to press, the phone in the police station starts ringing.  It was Joel Gelles hisself, my hand on a stack a Bibles.  The younger cop answers, and all the Kid heard from the holding cell was, “Yeah.  Uh-huh.  Yes, Mr. Gelles, he’s here.  Yes Mr. Gelles.  It must have been a mistake.  We’ll take care of it, A.S.A.P.”

The cops was hearing better then.  Suddenly, they got some manners, too.  They let the Kid outta the holding cell and cleaned him up a bit, wiped the puke off his shirt.  They started asking him if he was hungry or thirsty and gave him a can a soda and some Tylenol.  They got his personal belongings together—the stuff in his pockets and his wallet—and straightened it out and made it all neat and whatnot.  The Kid had $2,000 in casino chips and those magically reappeared outta thin air, poof!  They actually apologized to the Kid for the mistake and set him up in a back room wit a leather couch and a flat screen TV and told him to just relax and take it easy, that somebody from Joel Gelles’s office was gonna come and pick him up and take him home.  And somebody did—Joel Gelles’s personal driver, if you can believe that.  But this guy didn’t take the Kid all the way home, no; the guy drove to the pawn shop to get the Kid’s car outta hock.

“Here’s forty grand,” Gelles’s driver says.  “Keep the change.  And if anybody comes around asking about this candy apple red Porsche, you never saw it before, understand?”

“What Porsche?” the pawn shop owner says.

“Exactly.”

And so the Kid’s crazy weekend in A.C. disappeared into thin air.

Part 6

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