nostalgia(a short story)
Rick`s Coney Island Of The Mind...
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It was in the 70`s when Nixon and the Watergate scandal was finally over,but still vivid in everyone`s mind as we approached the mid point of that decade,I was not yet thirty and was making a decent living as a burglar,a jewel thief,a forger,and even a smalltime marijauna smuggler in the Florida Keys and Miami area.

I`d been indulging in such knavery,off and on,since I was discharged from the U.S.Army at the age of seventeen.A few months after I joined our armed forces determined at a court martial(where I was the primary figure) I was simply not "military material".and subsequently escorted me off their base with a General Discharge,under honorable conditions.A story in itself,I suppose,as my life seems so rife with in retrospecive moments like now. Ruminations for rainy days.Fodder,possibly,for prose.Memories,at the very least.

Same with each "heist",smuggling operation,and prison time served,and so on,ad infinitum.Stories I`ve lived and will write day...when I`ve grown old enough to find them interesting again.Same with my marriages and countless affairs.And so on.

But,meantime,as I was saying:it was the mid 70`s,and I was a man in my physical prime of life whose avocation was burglary,and all other illicit endeavors I could find- with the exception of anything involving violence,or guns,or harm to anyone physically.

Needless to say such a lifestyle carried heavy burdens of stress in terms of planning,concentration,role playing,and all else conducive to "staying ahead of the law;and,as I said,I was in my physical prime. So between "jobs" I would seek a respite,or mini vacation,if you will,to relieve the stress.Sometimes,for example,I`d spend a week or more down in the Virgin Islands.Sometimes I`d party for days at a time in a suite at the El San Juan Hotel in Puerto Rico.Sometimes I`d tour Florida and go to Disneyworld.Sometimes I`d simply barricade myself in my home and do nothing at all for days on end.But whatever I did(or did not do),there`d be a woman of some status , stature,or repute there with me.Sex,after all,was the ultimate way to "de-stress",especially for a man in the apex of his manhood.Or so it was with me.Still is,I suppose...even in this traipse into the "golden years".Of course desire and frequency has decreased over the years.But,then again,so has stress.

Oftentimes after those "missions",or "jobs",or heists,or whatever,I`d come home to an empty house and would simply call a friend of mine who ran what was termed an,"escourt service".Money,of course,was never a problem,and when I went that recourse my friend always gave me a houseguest who he designated his "cream of the crop".And indeed, most of them were so physically stunning as to exceed any fantasy of the average male libido.

One of them was even working on her "masters" at the University Of Miami.

Astounding young ladies all,each in her own special way.I treated each one as special,simply because each one of them were kind and special. And each one always treated me the same way in return.

And so it went.In this particular routine from the Watergate Hearings in `72 until around `75.Then prison for five years-but again,another story in itself.

One time Carl(my friend who ran the escourt service in Miami Beach)told me when I called that he had nobody available.This was somewhere in the spring of 1974. He went on to explain,however,that he knew a fairly attractive lady who was in her mid 30`s and had been trying to work within the local escourt services around Miami for the past few months,but had not had much success because of the demand for younger women.He added how she was a gentle and experienced lady,with a kindness and abandonment to the "intellectualism"his younger sorority-types were so fond of.She was in his summation,"a sweet-lovely lady down on her luck".

I was enchanted with his sales pitch and told him to send her over to my place in his limousine.

And so he did.An hour later my doorbell chimed and when I opened the door there she stood at my threshold.I remember it was a late and sultry spring night with a full moon-and because my front door happened to face the Atlantic,or whatever direction it might`ve been,the moon seemed to hover just above her head.

"Hello,Rick",she said in almost a whisper."I could use a friend and Carl told me you could use one too. May I come inside? Incidentally,my name is Jennifer.But I`d really prefer to be called Jenny."

She came inside and became my companion,lover,and friend for nearly two months thereafter.And neither she nor Carl asked for payment of any kind.

Jenny was adorable in every way imaginable,and had a wholesome "girl-next-door look"like Sandra Bullock(who was probably still in elementary school back then).

Jenny was about seven years my senior...yes...but it only was apparent in her eyes---she`d give the impression of being able to see "into me",yet always with approval,nevertheless.She was a woman who somehow had the ability to make me feel like a total man and sometimes a foolish adolescent;sometimes both at the same time,And her body was not as lithe,supple,and firm as those young women Carl had sent over so many times before-yet,I craved her touch,her smells,her tastes,her passions and all else about her in all ways insatiable and unique.

I fell in love with her truly...but only realized and admitted it to myself years after she`d gone.I was too entrenched in deceit(and even self deceit)at the time to be attuned to my emotions,and so I didn`t attempt to change her mind when I awoke to the sound of her crying softly beside me one morning and whispering,"it`s time for me to go."

I remember later that day feeling a terrible sense of loss as I drove her to the Miami airport and kissing her goodbye as she boarded a plane to Detroit.I remember wanting to ask her if she would stay a little longer,but stood mute as she walked away because I was merely a thief and she was,after all,a whore.And besides all that,I had upcoming "jobs" to plan out.

So I watched Jenny`s plane take off into that northward destination she requested I pay her passage to and wondered what she`d think when she would open her cosmetic bag in her suitcase and find the six thousand dollars I put there.

I hoped she would use it to start a different and better kind of life.And perhaps think fondly of me from time to time.

I never called Carl again.

Nor did I hear anything from Jennifer.

And time and change ever constantly advanced until Jenny`s smile and the intimate memories of her body became obscured and/or replaced by a chasm of yesterdays.And all too suddenly even the 70`s were very far away.

But I never completely forgot Jenny and the lesson she taught me.

She taught me that love itself is not retroactive,but it is sometimes unrecognized.And that lack of recognition stems from the inability to be in contact with oneself.Moreover,love(even love unrequited) can grow,as long as growth is allowed within oneself.And while it`s certain that love can cause growth within us,it`s equally certain that growth within us can cause us to love.

Jenny helped me grow and love.And I love her for that and other things she gave me,even to this day.I don`t know whatever happened to her,but I hope she found the kind of life(and love) she deserved.I know I wronged her terribly by catagorizing her as a whore-she was every bit a lady as Carl told me she was.But my low opinion of myself in those times gave me a low opinion of others,even my gentle and kind Jennifer.I of course needed growth to realize that.

I still wonder to this day if Jenny`s tears that final morning were because she had fallen in love with me and saw I was unable to reciprocate.Conjecture is all I have.

As for me,I eventually got caught for my villiany and imprisoned and paid my debts with irretrievable years taken out of my life.Needless to say I never returned to that lifestyle,nor have considered it.I suppose it could be said,"I simply grew out of it."

I`d like to think Jenny was more responsible for that than anything else,including the horrors of incarceration.

The bottom line of all this?It`s a Biblical ironry,I suppose, that some of the greatest saints were at one time thieves and whores.But then again,perhaps it`s a necessary step toward sainthood.A necessary growth.

I am no saint by any means.But I believe Jenny is.

And I`ll always carry her lovingly in my heart.

More so as I grow,even now.

Yes,even now...

-Rick James(2003