Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Under the Larch

Did you know…
John Dillinger never died
in that grimy alley
next to the Biograph Theater
in Lincoln Park?
No, he never died at all, actually,
even though he is pretty old now,
115 years old, to be exact.
But you would never know it.
He still looks just as
youthful and dapper
as he did when he was robbing banks
and using fake soap guns
to escape from Crown Point prisons.
He wears well-fitting suits, of course,
and a fedora looks natural on him.
Dark hair slicked back,
a mustache over his sly grin,
he asked me out on a date!
Who could say no?
I’ve always liked the bad boys.
A slight wrench in my plans,
my best dress is a bright red one,
and I thought that might not
make the best impression.
We met at a dimly lit bar,
and he ordered bourbon on the rocks,
while I nervously sipped a screwdriver
through the little black stirring straws.
“So where have you been all this time?” I asked,
and he only offered “Northern Wisconsin” as a reply.
I thought it might be impolite to discuss
his felonies and misdemeanors,
so I asked him if he was surprised
how much the city has changed.
“There used to be a bakery,” he began
with a faraway look in his eyes.
“If a dame had a sweet tooth,
that’s where I would take her…
they had Victoria sandwiches, opera cakes,
Viennese whirls, sticky toffee puddings…
But what I really loved were the gooseberry pies…
Christ, those were good gooseberry pies.”
“Huh,” I replied,
not sure what to do with that information.
“Did you know?” he said,
“Everyone thinks of me as a master criminal,
but what I really wanted
was to be a master baker.”
“Well, it’s never too late to pursue your dreams,”
I pointed out,
“especially when you seem to be doing so well
at your age.”
“You wanna know my secret?” he asked with a wink.
“Your secret to baking gooseberry pies?”
“No,” he replied, “my secret to eternal life.”
“Yes, please,” I said, “But I have to pee first.”
When I returned, he began his tale
as the overhead lights dimmed,
and the only illumination was
a tiny LED tea light in the middle of our table.
“There was a millionaire out here in Lincoln Park,
rich as Solomon and old as Methuselah,
and me and my boys decided to…borrow
a few things from his house, right?
So we stopped by his place to pay him a visit,
and Big Shorty gave the old man
a little bump on the head,
nothing serious, see,
and we took a look around the place.
I got a bit hungry and decided to make a sandwich,
and inside the icebox,
the old man had the biggest ruby I ever seen.
Pretty strange, but he was very old,
Probably lost his marbles a bit.
I took that ruby for myself,
thought maybe I’d give it to some broad
I wanted to impress.
Turns out, that ruby gives the person who owns it
eternal youth and life,
How about that?”
“Wow,” I replied.
Before I could marvel further,
he continued,
“Thing is, I’m kinda sick of eternal youth and life.
I hate the music and the clothes and the Twitter now.
I’m not interested in robbing banks,
Everything is digital and computerized now.
Am I supposed to run out with some kind of ATM receipt?”
“Well,” I interrupted, intending to inform him
that he could actually rob a bank of cash even now,
but he went on.
“My time is over, kid,
and I want to pass on my secret to someone else.
So if you’re interested in eternal youth and life,”
and now he started drawing a rough map on
a cocktail napkin,
“You just need to go to the larch tree
next to the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame
in Hayward, Wisconsin.
There’s a huge muskie there,
you can’t miss it.
Anyway, dig under this larch tree
on the north side.
If you take the ruby from me,
my power will be gone,
and I’ll quietly pass away.
I’d really appreciate it, sweetheart.”
“Yeah, I guess, okay,” I replied.
Then we went to see a movie.
Some kind of complicated heist movie,
but John didn’t like it.
Said it was too loud,
and he didn’t like all the cursing.

1 comment:

  1. This prompt was pretty interesting: I had to incorporate five unusual desserts, two tools, a specific kind of tree, and an outlaw. So this is what resulted.