Of Mice and Alderman II
I hear there’s elections for big and
small offices come this autumn. And yes, I still got the fire in the belly. But
what I don’t have, never have had, is the funding, that huge wad of dough
needed to turn my fire into a blood-hot ballet-box haze.
This paucity of big-time jack is what
brought me and my buddy Little Jimmy Iodine to the southeast corner of Wells
and the so-called Old World Third
Street the other warm night. We were flush with a
couple, three savings coupons for soup and a sandwich at the George Webb’s. At
that corner, today in history, is a parking lot where once stood the mighty
Princess Theater, yesterday in the olden days, Before Development. Jimmy and I
reminisced our youth, yet as seasoned pedestrians, we waited for the light to
“Jeez Louise, remember, Artie? It seems
to be a dream now, but didn’t we see our first naked boob in the Princess way
back when, ain’a? I don’t believe the young people today could begin to
understand what a triumph that was—to see a naked boob in
a motion picture theater. Yeah, the movies they showed there were always like
from France and fock if you could figure out what the fock was going on, but
sure as shootin’, you could always figure by evening-close before the theater
played the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ right before the houselights came up, you
would had seen your naked boob.
“Nowadays, even in the movies that have
the big-time stars, you got bare knockers coming out your ears. But Artie, for
me to go see a movie today, I can’t ride the goddamn bus a couple hours all the
way out to Brook-focking-field from here just for the sight of the unencumbered
breast. I’m too tired. Too tired, Artie.”
This was not good. I had to cheer Jimmy
up or our bite at George Webb’s would be a royal pain in the ass. I told him
that maybe I ought to run for the alderman from Downtown next time around.
“Yeah, Artie! Alderman. Tell me the
story of how it’s going to be. When you’re alderman.”
I told Little Jimmy I’d make him my top
aide, that he could have his own chair to park his butt on in my office over by
“You got to be jerking my beefaroni. My
own chair, Artie? I wouldn’t wreck it. I promise. And maybe I could answer the
phone sometimes, if you were peddling a speech somewheres. Like if somebody
called about how come their street wasn’t plowed. I’d ask them if they voted
for you. And Artie, if they didn’t, I’d give them directions to National
Hardware and tell them to go buy a goddamn shovel and plow the street
themselves, the lazy focks.
“And tell me more, Artie. Could we
still live Downtown like always? We wouldn’t get pushed out by trust-fund knobs
with fancy haircuts on cell phones in their bullshit sport trucks who all of a
sudden dream to live Downtown with no place to park, but can afford to pay
whatever the piper plays; would we, Artie?”
Not a chance, Jimmy. I’d make Downtown
just the way we want it to be. I’d bring back the Princess Theater so a guy
could see a goddamn motion picture in his neighborhood, not to mention The
Strand, Egyptian and the Palace, to boot. And I’d make sure you could find a
couple, three taverns where a nice cocktail wouldn’t cost a mortgage payment
and there’d be no loud music boom-boom ’cause none of the candy-ass people who
go to lunch for a living would dream to go there.
And I told Little Jimmy that the dark
mall of the Grand Avenue
would be brightened with bowling alleys, and for people who lived in the
neighborhood, there would be a store with a practical housewares department,
where one could purchase a nice oven mitt or affordable shower curtain.
Jimmy was now all ears; so I told him
not to forget that as a custodian of the commonweal, I’d also need to make a
play for the occasional tourist who came to town. I would trade all our pigeons
and squirrels to some Third/Fourth/Fifth World country in exchange for their
chimpanzees and assorted monkeys—a good deal all around.
The poor foreign country would acquire
a usable food source and Downtown Beertown would gain one heck of a tourist
attraction, even better that we dressed the monkeys and chimps in little
festive ethnic outfits. We could also maybe train them to do county grounds
maintenance and low-level clerical work. Lower property taxes, anybody?
“Could I take care of the chimps,
Artie, could I?” Little Jimmy asked me. “I’d be really good to them. I promise.
I’d give them cigars. And teach them to roller skate.”
Sure you could, I assured Jimmy. Then I
had to give him a good whack upside the back of the head ’cause he wasn’t
looking when the stoplight turned green. I heard someone say, “What the hell is
eatin’ those two guys?”
Dreams, that’s what’s “eatin” us—especially the ones that aren’t ours, ’cause I’m Art Kumbalek and I told you so.