By: Alan Berger
I made a promise to myself that the only voice I was going to listen to would be my own.
Except, my wife’s.
I like that voice of hers. Right now, she is most likely having lunch with one of her high ass friends from her modeling days, telling them how wonderful her husband is doing in what I’ve been telling her I have been doing, that she has been buying into for years, or not.
You never know with her.
That is what probably what keeps it going and going.
Whatever it is, it’s working.
And like me, she doesn’t like responsibility but is not irresponsible.
She makes jokes sometimes about me cheating, and men cheating, and I have to remind her that is how we met. We both were cheating. “That’s different,” she would say. “Tell that to your ex-husband,” I would say, and she would say, “Which one?”
She thinks I am a businessman,
I am a thief.
That’s how this business started.
I had a particular job coming up, and I needed a particular guy for it.
Even if he was hard to take, and out of his mind, he did have a thing or two, or three, down pat, and I had to have them, for a bit.
Brick by brick.
Mortar by mortar
By the book and letter.
And the sooner the better.
That’s the way Bob taught me to do a good job.
My father didn’t like to be called Robert.
I had been clocking a location that I was going to rob.
A marijuana dispensary and a jewelry store right next to it, in a wonderful neighborhood, with a space for rent right above them, and I needed someone to rent it. Someone to not only smoothly rent it, but also with the skill to cut thru the floor to the treasures below.
I had a buyer for the weed and I had a buyer for the jewelry.
The space above was once a tailor shop and that suited me fine.
I could buy my big ass ex-model wife a few nice dresses. She doesn’t have a big ass, I just call her that and she doesn’t mind. I just meant she knows people.
I think sometimes they see I’m no businessman, but something else.
I don’t care what they think.
It’s not a crime if you don’t get caught.
We made an appointment with the real estate agent, and were told that the landlady who happened to own the jewelry store too might be there.
“So what do you do?” Asked the agent.
“Travel agent,” Arthur said.
“Really?” said the rental agent.
“Yeah, but only first class.”
“Really?” said the agent.
“Yeah,” said Arthur, “Why, you like flying first?”
“Yes,” she said, “I never want to land”.
“Well,” said Arthur, “You have to, we need the seat”.
Arthur looked over the building and started to sniff, like he had allergies.
“Holy Hanna, what is that smell?” Arthur asked.
“Oh, one of the places below the space you’re looking at sells medical Marijuana,” said the agent.
“Oh,” said Arthur, and let that statement hang in the wind for use maybe later.
“Sorry to be so……nosey……” he chuckled.
At that little release of comedy, a woman sauntered out of the coffee shop next door, and came over to us and announced, “I am Russian lady. I own building”.
So Arthur looked her up and down, like a guy in a cell watching Jodie Foster walk by but with nice teeth and a nice smile, and nice clothes, and a check book, and says to her, “You should put your name on it, like Trump does”.
She actually blushed and asked Arthur, “So you take?”
“How long for credit check?”
“No need,” she said.
She is no fool and knows what is what and you good tenant. “I can tell.”
“But what if both us have been in jail?” Arthur deadpanned.
“Everybody in Russia been jail.”
Arthur wrote her a check, and I told him to come to my house tonight and we can hammer out the preparation for the job.
The wife will be home, so I told him to watch the shop talk.
My wife didn’t ever know what I was up to, but she was no idiot. Meaning, maybe she does know, but what can she do?
The idiot, if anyone, was me.
I didn’t have to live this way,
But I like the action.
When I told her I was having company and she asked why, I told her I was thinking of buying a small strip mall, a few stores, dry cleaning, and maybe a Subway franchise and go in with my friend, Arthur.
She said make sure there will be no strip club in my strip mall, and I said there won’t be.
So we were at home, and she was having martinis and cigarettes, playing ping pong with one of her friends, while I’m lying in bed with our cat, her cat. She came with a cat, and me and the cat get along so well that I made up a poem for us while we were watching Mohamed Ali’s funeral.
You and I could go anytime
Anytime anytime anytime
And that would be just fine
Fine fine fine
As long as we are together
I hope my wife does not find out about us. It feels like cheating. I really like this cat. It’s an old thing, we both are. The wife will never be old. Me and him, are different.
The doorbell rang, and I heard my wife let Arthur in.
After Arthur wormed his way into a game of ping pong with my wife’s girlfriend, he and I went into the back yard.
I wanted to talk about the floor and cutting thru it, and the noise it would produce.
Arthur said to me, “The reason people liked ping pong so much was because you could put an ash tray on one side, and a martini on the other side and not miss a beat.”
He must have thought I was going to hit him, so he says, “Yeah, but I was thinking,” he says, “Run the sewing machines the shop left behind, no one will give a fuck. Even at night, a sound from the machine should be quite alright.”
After an hour, I felt we had it all down.
As I walked him to his car, around the side of the house, so the ping pong sisters would not distract him, I told him what a great idea that was about the sewing machine. He said, “Yeah, I just thought of it on the spot.” I said, “I know, I was there. Next time lie, and say you thought it thru.”
Inside his car, thank Christ parked down the street, in a shadow, was a girl smoking pot sticking her head up like a rabbit from a hole when Arthur called her on his cell, and his vibe got her attention. Her over the ear head phones fell off, but she didn’t care as it looked like she was excited to see Arthur, and she says, “Is the wind out of the bag Arthur?” Then, she looks at me and says, “Who are you?” and I said, “I am the bag.”
Well, this isn’t a popularity contest. Just a plain everyday witness less, victimless, un-armed, robbery.
And whatever keeps Arthur happy and, smart, is fine with me.
What keeps me happy is the wife and the ability and cunning to provide. Even though she has her own money, and a lot of it, I insist on using mine. Half the time I think she buys the businessman story, and half the time I think she is on to me
We do our taxes separately, and our joints, together.
Our family crest would say if we had one… “We like everything as long as we like it”…
She does not have children, and neither do I. We were laughing together one night when we agreed that even as kids we looked at family like un-wanted guests that were a million hours overstaying their welcome.
And they were not welcome in the first place.
We both liked being alone together tremendously. And we had her cat as kids.
I picked Arthur up at his place. He was waiting outside. He smiled when he saw me like it was a surprise. That’s how it is with him. When he got in, I reminded him we have a purpose tonight, and he says he knows that, and that is why he is so happy. “Or do you want me to mug for the camera of life, like we are in a crime movie?”
I really know how to pick them, and I say that as an endearment.
We parked a few blocks away from the set.
We opened the trunk and, got the tools out.
We opened up shop, and went to work.
There were two old sewing machines left behind.
I fired both of them up and thought if someone was walking after midnight, as the song goes, that knew the tailor, they would just think it was ghosts and there was nothing I could do about that. But, it was better than the sound of a floor being cut thru to a weed and jewelry store.
Arthur pointed to a bolt of red fabric left behind, as well as the machines, and suggested I make a dress for my wife while he does men’s work, and I said, “I just might do that.”
My mother banged on her sewing machine so much as a kid, I fell asleep many a night to that 100 percent cotton lullaby melody.
After the machine got warmed up, I could smell the oil, and I liked the memories it was invisibly sewing.
Arthur went to work cutting thru the floor, and I went to work, cutting thru the red bolt.
After a hardly any time at all to me, Arthur said he was halfway thru.
I said, “So am I”.
Another time chunk flew by and Arthur said, “Let’s go”.
We unfurled the Navy Seal rope and wood ladder, and down me and Arthur went.
I cleaned out the jewelry joint while Arthur cleaned out the joint, joint.
Then we switched to see what the other left behind, and back up the ladder we went.
And even though we wore ski masks, we took along with the haul, in the laundry bags we had along with us, the main feed of video footage of our wonderful performance that we would destroy later.
Upstairs, we gathered our other belongings, and looked over the shop that had been so far, so good to us, and thanked it, and left.
“Don’t forget your dress Miss,” Arthur said.
“Oh,” I said, and rolled it up and put it in my coat.
We went to Laurel Canyon first to un- load the weed. We talked about how much we would expect.
After that, we went to Bel Air with the jewelry, and we talked about how much to expect.
After we got what we expected, it was time to drop Arthur off. On the way, he asked how much we could expect from you know what? “What?” I said, “The dress,” he said. I remembered it was balled up in my robbing coat for the night, and would need a professional pressing job on it to display my cut. Maybe the wee wife will like it.
Instead of coming home with lipstick on my collar and panties in my pocket, like a normal guy would, I show up with a whole dress.
After I dropped Arthur off, I headed home with my new cash and my new dress.
I had done a lot of jobs before and yes, the high is delightful when it’s over, but this one was different.
She was waiting for me. More like lying in wait for me. She had me. Well, it was going to happen sooner or later, and my first rate mind said, “The sooner the better, because I think I found my Savoir”.
She had me.
Arms crossed and, “Where the Hell have you been? You smell like you fell into a pot patch.”
“Well, ain’t that a co-winkie-dink, because I just robbed a weed store and the jewelry store next to it. Can you smell the diamonds too? No you can’t because I turned them into cash. Can you smell that too?”
After I said that, I cooled it. She didn’t deserve this or me at the moment, or any other moment for that matter.
I also explained how I earn my money and she said, “I thought you were a businessman”. I told her, “No you didn’t.” I reminded her what a wonderful husband I was because I’m so faithful and I love her so much that on the last job, which was two hours ago, I loved her so much, I made her a dress right in the middle of the fucking gig! “That’s how strong my love is baby,” I said to her, sang to her, and she went for it. Well, as much as she could.
What else could she do?
Her love was strong.
I took the crumpled masterpiece of fashion from my robbery coat and showed it to her.
It didn’t look like much. She took it and smelled it with her pretty nose and smiled.
I told her about how it came about, and about my mother, and the smell of the machine. I told her, “I so got into it, I forgot about the job at hand”.
“Yes, I did.”
We took it to her tailor the next morning.
Yeah, she has a tailor, and he cleaned and pressed it.
We took it home. She didn’t want to try it on there, which was a good idea, since she knew if I liked it on her I would want to fuck her in it, and that would be better if we did it at home rather than a dressing room. Not that we have not done that before.
I can’t believe her sometimes, in a good way. On the way home we talked more about the dress than my background, and it was like she believed in the dress so much, she kept on holding the dress in her lap, but was more like caressing it.
By the time we got home, I was wet, and so was she.
I told her I would die for her, and she said that was because I had a hard-on, and I said, that that was a good reason. Some guys wear their hearts on their sleeves whilst I wear it in my pants. She took it as a compliment as I hoped and knew she would.
I waited for her to change on the bed. I kept my clothes on because if she didn’t like the dress, and she is not easy with this stuff, everything will revert back to crime story 101, and there will be Hell to be paid, to be paid in full on demand.
I was excited.
Meanwhile, in the bathroom, the red dress waited and waited for it to be put on.
She prayed to her God that she would like it. Of course he’s a crook, she’s seen
“Goodfellas”, but he does come from a Russian tailor generation Jew cloth cutting D.N.A. I hope. Don’t Jews do better with sewing machines than machine guns? Although he never gets caught. Not until he met me anyway.
Like I didn’t know about his past, when he was becoming my present.
I was just an innocent model. Yes, of course.
The door to the bathroom began slowly to open. I saw her hand first, with that nice red nail polish she wears, wrap itself around the door frame.
I knew then that she loved the red dress and I would love it too.
She came out, and it was wonderful.
She wanted to wear it to a party one of her friends was having, and asked if it was alright.
She thought someone might recognize it until I reminded her it was an original.
She said, “Really? That was true? What you said about you making it?”
“Yeah,” I said. “I may be a thief, but I’m not a liar”.
“That’s quite an accomplishment,” she said, and off to the party we went.
On the way home, she told me that she could have taken half a dozen orders for original dresses like the one she had on. They would just have to be designed by me. As far as the sewing and stuff, a monkey could knock them off with a pattern.
I told her, I liked what I was.
She said, “Think about an ad-on”.
And she really meant it, I can tell you.
So now, I steal and make dresses.
I’ll have to steal some sewing machines.
It’s a good way for me to get into it.
I’ll call my new business, “I’m a thief, sew what?”
spot on, crack prose. a dress-making thief – so original