After our breakneck belly-flop bottoming-out farther back down the road, and doing God knows what damage to the shocks and struts and whatever else is under there, we took the car off the pavement once again, albeit with a bit more feel and care, about a half mile short of a Cape Cod motel where I hoped to ride out the coming storm—blue metal muzzle-hot lightning and lead-black rain from the finishers now roaming the night for whoever left two of theirs dead on the beach and then two more on the blacktop. She’s the maniac driver; I’m the blood-on-his-hands holding the very-loaded-big-boy-.44 carjacker. Quite an entry on the old résumé, that’ll be.
We left the car over a hump of grass in back of an evergreen stand, pretty good cover in the dark, and hoofed it to the “olde” something or other “inne” to await, as our characters in these dark stories always do, their date with inexorable fate, and for the final credits to roll. But in film fiction, or as well vérité, these tales often don’t tell themselves. Let’s add “narrator” to my job history—one bullet-point down the page after “carjacker”. Here goes.
So I’d bashed my way to Great NY Noodletown, jousting shoulder bag to shopping bag with the hordes of New York’s little old Chinese ladies. There’s no quarter asked or given in their relentless boring right down the middle of the packed Chinatown sidewalks, swinging their knee-cracking sacks crammed with cabbages and large unknown oriental fruits. I wailed away right back at ’em with mine, packing two hardcover books for the ride and the zippered cloth bag going to Cape Cod I’ve contracted to deliver for my boss, Mr. Chen, and his associate in the jewelry business, Mr. Levy.
And a loaded .44. Or was it the .357?
Took a look.
I’m a little flighty with some things, just grab and go.
But, mmm yummy yum, I’m unwaveringly down with Noodletown, cross-corner from the take-off point for whichever twenty-buck-to-Boston Chinatown express bus service was successfully dodging the highway safety Feds and the IRS that week, the best low key mode of travel for keeping the lowest profile. Mr. Chen wanted my head down, but eyes open and up and sharp and aware on the job, lest someone be bird dogging me.
The Noodletown window looks right out toward the bus stop. But I couldn’t, the glass blocked by hanging barbequed ducks and yellow fleshed soy sauce soaked cuttlefish. So I planned to move on across that corner for my second course, as well as, in the vernacular, case the scene. For what, I didn’t know. But I’d be vigilant for trouble, skulkers, loathsome danger lurking who knows where. It was rather ill defined; my handlers were unclear about the nature of the potential peril. What I do know is an army, and this man’s delivery service, run on a full stomach.
First course was salt baked squid, a cooking style Noodletown is justly famous for, and I know that dish is kind of trite by now, but I’ve got two middle fingers I’ll wave in your face then turn over and stick in your eyes, it’s so good. And after the appropriately named squid with wild pepper sauce over yonder at Golden Glorious Fish, I’d be appropriately squided out. It’s a cold dish, might remind you of those Italianate seafood salads, but more than a little bit not, you know? I mean, whoooo, zippy-hot, and zippy I don’t mind. But I’m not one of those nuclear chileheads, like this writer guy I know—hangs around, appropriately, up in Hell’s Kitchen. More than a little odd around the edges, that boy. And hey, I’m a little jacked up myself, in a lot of ways.
But I’m not a maniac.
And no, I didn’t look, didn’t peek, didn’t know what’s the big deal with the bag Mr. Chen had me lugging to a buy on a beach in Orleans, Massachusetts. I’d be totally under the radar, splitting time in two motels, mass transit all the way, no cars, no toll booth cameras, no cell phone records or traces.
Okay. Fine. It’s raw, uncut, rough, “dirty” diamonds, in assorted soft mineral tints, a pile of ’em.