The Dogs of Brownsville
Mongoose looked askance at himself in the bathroom mirror. He could not believe the reflection of the image that stared back at him. His hair was gray at the temples but most of what he saw was still black, with only a modest sprinkling of gray throughout. His personal barber, ‘Hollywood Joe’ as he was called because he once worked for the studios, suggested he dye his hair. Not completely, just enough to cover up part of the gray. Mongoose refused. He preferred to rely on his good genes.
As he ran his hands over his hair, he could actually feel the difference of the softer strands that had already turned to a silver gray. That plus a tan that he was always working on made him fairly attractive for his sixty-two years. Working out in the gym, which he had detested at first, became a routine that helped keep him in shape. He thought of his father, who had passed away a haggard old man, and yet in another three years he knew he would be eligible for Medicare and could put in for Social Security benefits without being penalized.
From his suite on the top floor of the Desert Winds Hotel and Casino, he had, when the drapes were open, an excellent view of McCarran, the Luxor and the Mandalay through the floor-to ceiling wraparound windows.
Deciding what to wear was always a chore. His wardrobe boasted a full array of suits, sport jackets and pants to match, three tuxedos, more than fifty shirts and a dozen pair of shoes, with all of the required accessories for any occasion. Frank Rothman told him, “If you dress like you’re worth a lot of money, people will think you’re worth a lot of money, and if it’s success you’re after, dress Italian, act British, and think Yiddish.”
For now, the morning mail had his attention. There were the two car payment notices, which he would give to his accountant to take care of. The slew of mortgage refinance offers puzzled him since he did not have a mortgage. One piece of mail caught his eye. The return address was of particular interest, Brooklyn, New York. Then he saw the familiar logo, BBC, The Brownsville Boys Club. He could not wait to open it and revisit old times.
“Venus, hon. Guess what?” called out Mongoose in the direction of the bedroom.
“I got a letter from the BBC.”
“The British Broadcasting Corporation?”
“No. The Brownsville Boys Club.”
“Don’t tell me they want another donation.”
Venus walked into the living room and wrapped her arms around Mongoose. She was only a few months younger than him but could easily pass for forty-five. She still had the figure of a showgirl, a trade that she plied for almost thirty years. Tonight she was dressed in leather. With her blonde hair, blue eyes and palepink lipstick, it did not matter what she wore. Eyes followed her wherever she went. Talk about good genes.
“When you put your arms around me like that, I get an erection.”
“Erection? You mean hard on.”
“So what’s the big deal with the BBC?”
“It’s another reminder about their fifty-sixth anniversary, May 5, 1996, that’s tomorrow, at the Stone Avenue Library. You remember that odd-structured building? It was like the castle in Central Park where Hamlet was performed, but it served as the cultural center of Brownsville.”
“Yes. I do remember,” she answered softly as she walked over to one of the windows and smiled back at the memories that called out to her.
“It would be nice if we could go. It’d be fun strolling down memory lane. Oh, here’s one for you. It’s from that guy in Palm Springs. You know, where they take retired showgirls who still have what it takes and parade them onstage in their skivvies.”
“Yeah, I remember that guy, the one with the greasy moustache who kept comparing me to that cunt Edy Williams. Somehow I had the feeling that all he wanted to do was to slide his hand in between my legs.”
“I thought he wanted to slide his tongue in between your legs.”
“Now, now. Don’t be jealous.”
“Can I help it if he reminds me of a pimp?”
Mongoose kissed Venus on the cheek, walked back to the bathroom and fixed his gold cuff links into the folded over cuffs of his sleeves. He was about to select a silk tie to go with his pale blue shirt when he began to reminisce. He stared at himself in the mirror once again, and as though a kaleidoscope opened up before him, he began to think about where he had come from and how far he had gone, and all the years in between.