Shorty and I flew into Dallas on a Friday or Saturday, I think. I know it was the weekend. We spent a couple days getting to know our host and hostess. Michael liked to wear jeans and plain black T-shirts. He kind of reminded me of The Fonz. Hillary was a diva. She had enough clothes for twenty people. Michael actually took us into their bedroom to show us her closet. I don’t know how she managed to get that many outfits into that one small space.
Our first Monday morning in Dallas, Shorty and I went to Hillary’s office. She wanted to introduce us to her friends and co-workers. We rode in Hillary’s big green sedan. It was a Dodge or a Chrysler, I think. Michael drove a big white two seat panel van, much like the van I drove when I was a supply driver in the Army. The van belonged to Michael’s uncle, Bernie, who owned the carpet company Michael worked at.
Small World Factoid: Hillary’s boss and Michael’s boss were best friends.
There were about a dozen people that worked at Hillary’s office, but I remember only two. Randi and Martha. Almost everyone in Hillary’s office was a transplant from Detroit, including Hillary. So was Michael, for that matter. I think the only one who wasn’t was Martha.
Randi was a pretty, very well endowed brunette with short curly hair–it was so curly it was almost an afro. The only reason I mention her hair is because I had an afro, and a short, thick beard at that time. Randi and I would’ve made a very cute couple. I think Randi was a single mother, so the last thing she would be interested in was a casual hook up with me, no matter how darlingpreshadorbs we would’ve looked together.
I had asked my sister, Denise, to perm my hair a couple of months earlier. I had promised myself I wasn’t going to cut my hair for three years after I got out of the Army, but my hair was straight, fine and flyaway, and I wanted something with a little more body. I wanted hair like Randi’s, but ended up with hair like Julius Irving. I hated it, until my dad saw my new hairdo.
“Your hair looks like a goddamn dandelion that’s ready to blow away.” he said, in disgust. And then I loved my hair.
Martha was a stunning Texas blonde. She was easily one of the most beautiful women I’ve met in my life. She was petite and perfectly packaged; immaculately groomed, not one hair out of place. She looked like an angel, and I fell in love with her immediately.
Shorty and I couldn’t stop staring at her. Randi and Hillary hated her. Martha liked to party and have sex with random guys. She was essentially everything I was looking for in a woman at that time. I was totally hoping we’d become close friends while I was in town.
I remember Shorty and I were each drinking a beer as Hillary showed us around and introduced us to everyone, which is probably why I can’t remember most of them. And most of them were guys, so… There was another gal that worked at Hillary’s office. She was a redheaded hippie chick, and she was in relationship with with some hippie dude. That’s probably why I can’t remember her name.
I seem to remember a sense of tension in the office. There were sales quotas to be met and commissions to be made by the salespeople. There was a lots of nervous chatter as the day began.
Then Hillary’s boss strolled in, like unto a king.
His name was Jerry. And he wanted to meet Shorty and I. He took us into his huge office, poured us a glass of bourbon from his bar, and sat down behind a desk about the size of Rhode Island. He then proceeded to interrogate us for an hour or more. Interview doesn’t seem appropriate to describe the gravity of our first meeting. He may have even taken notes, or he could’ve been doing paperwork, I can’t remember for sure.
Jerry kind of knew Shorty. They certainly knew of each other. They had talked on the phone a couple of times, and Hillary had told everyone about her trip to Minnesota to visit the crazy mechanic. Jerry seriously wanted Shorty to buy more stuff from him, and worked that into the conversation a lots. But what Jerry seemed to be most interested in was our experience with guns. Did we own any? Did we go hunting? Had we killed anything? Ever? Lately?
Neither Shorty nor I were sportsmen. We didn’t hunt animals, though we probably could have if we needed to. Neither of us owned a gun, but we had a lots of friends that did. And I had qualified as a marksman, back when I was in the Army. The only shooting I did anymore was with my camera.
Oh, you were in the Army! Did you go to Nam? We’re you in combat? Did you ever have to kill anyone?
“Are you looking for a hitman?” I asked, in jest. A look of shock or surprise raced across Jerry’s face, and just as quickly disappeared.
“Me? No, I’m an honest businessman.” Jerry replied, and changed the subject. When he was sure he knew everything about us he needed to know, he invited us to his house for dinner. “You seem like a couple of nice guys, and you’re down here on vacation. Let me call my wife to let her know to set a couple extra plates at the table.” He gave each of us his business card, writing his home number on the back while he talked to his wife. “Call me if you need anything. Any time.” We put his cards in our wallets.
Hillary gave us the keys to her car, and we drove back to her apartment. Shorty and I spent the rest of the day hanging out by the pool drinking beer, chatting it up with the poolside bikini babes working on their tans, and playing Frisbee. I brought a couple discs to Dallas with me. I could throw a damn Frisbee back then. I think we even talked a couple bikini babes into playing Frisbee with us. I loved watching them run around and jump up and down.
At around 3:00 PM, we drove back to Hillary’s office. We had a dinner date with Jerry. The office was loud and chaotic. Most everyone was upbeat and cheerful, high on adrenaline. Shorty and I would discover they were all high on something else as well: Quaaludes. The sales force in Hillary’s office popped them like they were M&M’s.
The only person in the office that wasn’t upbeat that afternoon was Martha, who looked like she had been standing in an hurricane for an hour, then dragged behind a truck down a gravel road for a few miles. She was crying into the phone, mascara running down her angel face à la Tammy Faye Baker. Her hair was disheveled and looked like a rat’s nest. Shorty and I couldn’t stop staring at her for completely different reasons this time. We started to walk over to her desk to, you know, offer some words of comfort and support, and ask if she wanted to go have sex in the backseat of her car. That’d probably make her feel better…
Randi and Hillary appeared out of nowhere, stopping us in our tracks. They gave us a look that froze the marrow of our bones, we backed away from Martha’s desk, slowly. Randi and Hillary secretly smiled at each other. They were enjoying this.
Jerry strolled into the Bullpen, that’s what he called the Sales Office. It was a huge room, filled with desks, chairs and telephones. No cubicles, nothing to separate the desks or provide even a hint of privacy. Satisfied with what he saw, he asked if we were ready to go.
I can’t remember what kind of car Jerry had, but I remember he didn’t drive. He had a chauffeur. We followed Jerry’s car through rush hour traffic in Dallas for maybe an hour, heading out to one of the suburbs. The houses started getting big, then bigger.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Shorty asked.
“Uh-huh. Jerry must be rich.”
We finally arrived at Jerry’s mansion in a neighborhood of other mansions. I had been to the homes of some of the dentists I worked with when I was in the Army. They lived in really nice houses. Jerry’s domicile made them all look like trailer houses. There were six or seven banana trees, twenty feet tall, growing in the living room. Real bananas were growing on them. The cathedral ceiling soared probably another twenty feet above the tops of the trees.
“We were wrong. This guy is fucking rich!” I whispered to Shorty.
Jerry introduced us to his supermodel wife–I think her name was Sheila–and his two young sons, then took an immense amount of joy giving us a tour of his home. There were rare Italian marble countertops in the huge kitchen. Gold plated faucets and hardware in the bathroom. Jerry spared no expense when he built his castle. Even his garage was nicer than half the places I’d called home. He had an exotic custom built sportscar in the garage that he had driven exactly once.
“I got a goddamn speeding ticket! I can’t drive the fuckin’ thing, it goes too fast!” he laughed.
He led us upstairs. The master suite was the size of a bowling alley. The shower in his bathroom was large enough to accommodate five Planet Zablotnys. Shorty and I were totally impressed. I think both of our mouths were open in awe.
“Do you mind if I ask how much it cost to build this place?” I asked.
“Yes, I do.” Jerry replied. “Go ahead and guess.”
“A million dollars.” Shorty said.
“I think it’s closer to two…” I added. Jerry nodded, but he never actually told us how much he spent.
“Wow. You must sell a helluvalotta stuff.” Shorty and I both said.
“I’ve done all right.” Jerry replied. His face was beaming.
We had a bourbon at Jerry’s bar, he drank with us this time. I had been in bars that weren’t stocked with as much booze as Jerry had in his house. We ate a delicious meal with Jerry’s family while his wife quizzed us about our visit. She was also curious about how much we knew about guns.
Sheila was a raven haired goddess. Her hair was long and flowing, and framed her oval face like an avatar of midnight. She had dark eyes, and porcelain skin. I was mesmerized by her, and had to remind myself not to stare at her. I focused on the food on my plate, and then I had to remind myself to chew the food in my mouth before I loaded another shovelful.
Jerry interrupted her, telling his wife he had already gone over this subject with us.
“They’re good guys. They’re here on vacation. Leave ’em alone.”
“That’s all?” Sheila asked us.
“Yeah, that’s all.” I said, trying not to talk with my mouth full. The stew she had made was savory and delicious. “It’s still ten below zero in Minnesota. We’re pretty much in love with the weather here.” I was pretty much in love with Jerry’s wife. I think I was surprised she didn’t have a chef, then I wondered if she needed an assistant. I’d be willing to peel her potatoes…
I started quizzing Sheila about her life. I figured it was only fair. Sheila and Jerry were from Detroit, so they knew all about winter weather, and wanting to escape it. I was trying to figure out if Sheila was interested in having an affair with me while we were in town, but couldn’t figure out a way to tactfully ask her that in front of her husband.
Sheila didn’t have to work for a living, so she had other pursuits. She managed Jerry’s household, and did volunteer work in the community. She was working her way up the hierarchy of the high society housewives of Dallas. Sheila didn’t seem to be especially happy or fulfilled, but she had a lots of other perks and benefits in her world. I couldn’t feel bad for her, no matter how much I tried.
Jerry’s boys were another matter. I can’t remember their names either, but they were around eight and six years old, respectively. They giggled all through dinner. They loved listening to Shorty speak, and asked him a million questions. He sounded like the guys in the movie Fargo.
“How come you don’t talk like that?” they asked me. I think they laughed at me because I was probably the first hippie dude that had ever been inside their house.
“Ya mean like this, then? Yah, you betcha!” I said, breaking out my rural Minnesota accent. Easiest laugh I’ve gotten in my life.
After profusely thanking Sheila for a delicious meal, Jerry, Shorty and I retired to the bar for more bourbon and cigars. Cuban cigars, of course. I had a pretty good buzz going by that time. Shorty and I had been drinking beer all day, and Jerry was generous with his liquor. Shorty didn’t care for bourbon, so I probably drank his whiskey, too. He sipped on a beer.
“What’s the deal with all the questions about guns?” I asked. If I hadn’t been so lubricated, I probably would’ve been a bit less direct. I liked Jerry, and I didn’t want to do anything to offend him, especially once I met Sheila.
“You seem like good guys, so I’ll tell you, but you have to promise me you won’t say a word of this to Hillary. Or Michael.” Jerry said, after a moment. We promised. He paused for a short time before speaking, wondering if he could trust us. “You shouldn’t have come here.” he finally said.
“You invited us here!” Shorty said. I wasn’t the only one under the influence.
“Not here. Dallas!” Jerry said. “Jesus Christ! Are you guys going to be able to drive?”
“Yeah, we’re like this all the time. You were saying…”
“You shouldn’t have come here. And be careful with Hillary. She’s dangerous.”
“Hillary? She’s my friend!” Shorty replied, shaking his head.
“Listen to me. She’s not your friend. You guys are walking through a minefield.”
“What?” Shorty asked.
“We’re in trouble.” I translated for Shorty.
“Hillary and Michael are good people. I like them.” Shorty said. Dogs aren’t as loyal as Shorty. It’s one of the things I admire about him, but it’s a quality that many people have taken advantage of.
“Michael’s a putz. The only reason I put up with him is because he’s Bernie’s nephew, and Bernie and I go way back. We both started out with next to nothing in Detroit, and we’ve supported each other every step of the way. I love that guy like a brother, more than a brother! I have a brother, and I can’t stand that sonuvabitch!!”
“If Hillary’s so dangerous, why do you keep her?” I asked.
“What I do is my business, not yours,” Jerry snapped. I was momentarily afraid I had gone too far. “But the truth is, she’s the best salesman I’ve got. She got you to buy something, didn’t she?” Jerry said to Shorty, and he laughed. Shorty was hardly Jerry’s best customer.
I couldn’t get Jerry to explain exactly why he thought Hillary was so dangerous, or why he thought we were packing heat, but there was no doubt he didn’t trust Hillary, or Michael, any further than he could throw his house.
My head was spinning for a couple reasons when we decided it was time to leave. We said our goodbyes and thanked Jerry and Sheila for their hospitality. And we then we thanked Sheila a couple of dozen more times for the meal. It was really good. Jerry walked us out to the car.
“Are you sure you guys are going to be okay?” he asked. “You’ve both been drinking since eight this morning.” It was around 8:00 PM.
Alcohol had a random effect on me back then. Sometimes I could drink all day and not feel overly impaired. Other times, two beers would have me reeling from lamppost to gutter like unto a skid row bum. On that day, I was feeling great, until the last two glasses of bourbon.
“Yah, sure,”Shorty replied. I think Jerry got a kick out of the way Shorty talked, too. He smiled and clapped Shorty on the back. “Just tell us how to get the hell outta here and back to the highway. We’ll be fine once we find that.” Jerry gave us directions that we immediately forgot, and we took off.
“What do you think about this?” I asked Shorty.
“I think I should’ve peed before we left Jerry’s.”
Shorty had entirely missed the intent of my question, yet somehow managed to come up with the correct answer. He wasn’t the only one with an uncomfortably full bladder. We drove down the street, trying to remember Jerry’s directions, and ended up in a cul de sac. At the end of the cul de sac was the largest house I had ever seen in person.
If Jerry’s house was a mansion, this place was the Taj Mahal.
We were lost, and our bladders were beyond full. We drove out of the cul de sac and tried again, ending up in the same cul de sac a few minutes later. We tried again, taking the opposite turns out of the cul de sac we had taken the last time, and ended up in front of the Taj Mahal once more.
We tried again, taking random turns when an opportunity presented itself, and ended up in front of the Taj Mahal for the fourth time. By that time, our bladders were about to burst.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m gonna piss my pants in about thirty seconds.” I said.
“I’m right behind you, brother.” Shorty said, and put the car in Park. “I hate to have to do this, but I’d hate to piss my pants even more.” We got out of the car and started pissing on the front yard of the Taj Mahal of Dallas.
The porch lights came on, the front door opened, and a little old guy came running towards us.
“Hey! What are you guys doing there!” the old guy asked, then he said, “Hey!! Stop pissing in my yard!!!” even louder when he saw what we were doing. “Stop! Or I’ll call the police!!”
“We are the police.” I said. There was no way I could’ve stopped peeing then without causing serious harm to myself, and it was the first response that popped into my head.
“What?” the old guy said. He had run the mile and half from his front door to the street, and stood about five feet from where Shorty and I were defiling his meticulous yard. The old guy clearly wasn’t expecting that answer. And we sure as hell didn’t look like cops.
“We’re not cops,” Shorty said. “Don’t listen to him, he’s drunk.”
“What??” The old guy’s voice had lost some of its anger.
“That’s right. We’re hitmen.” I said. Shorty and I continued to piss like racehorses.
“What!?!” the old guy said. He wasn’t angry anymore. He sounded more confused than anything else.
My flow of urine was starting to ebb, and then it stopped. I shook a couple drops of pee off of the tip of my penis, and zipped up my fly. I took a quick look and saw Shorty was still going strong. I needed to stall the old man a bit longer, so I extended my hand to the little old man, and smiled, real friendly-like.
“I’m really sorry about having to piss in your yard and all, but I don’t think I could’ve waited another ten seconds, man. By the way, you have a beautiful house. I can’t imagine a nicer place to toss a whiz, can you, Shorty?”
“Nope. It’s probably the prettiest place I’ve ever taken a leak in my whole life.”
“Thank you.” the old guy replied, then recoiled in disgust. “I’m not going to shake your hand! Get away from me!!”
Shorty finally finished, and zipped up his fly.
“Yah, thanks, man. I had to pee so bad I could’ve cut metal.” He also extended his hand. The old guy shook his head and took a step backwards. Now that we didn’t have our dicks in our hands, we might pull guns on him. After all, I did tell him we were hitmen…
“Well, now that you’re done, you can get off my property, or I really will call the police.”
“Yeah, really sorry about this,” I apologized again. Shorty also apologized, then he got a bright idea.
“Hey, can you tell us how to get back to the highway? We’ve been lost in here for about the last half hour…”
The little old guy mumbled to himself for a minute, then actually gave us directions. Armed with this knowledge, and feeling ten pounds lighter, we made it to the highway and laughed all the way back to the apartment, forgetting all about Jerry’s warning. We relived our relieving experience, and how beautiful Jerry’s house and wife were.
I would remember Jerry’s warning in the morning, but Shorty completely forgot about it. We never discussed it again, which is probably a real shame.
Then again, I don’t know if it would’ve made any difference in the long run…