Reminds me of a recent visit to Vancvouer and a long and difficult dinner with Sinbob.......
Oh, the pain. I staggered from my bed into the bathroom. As I filled the sink, I tried to recollect the night before. My dinner with Sinbob... I'd done the research. Eight months worth. An endless trail of libraries, newspaper clippings, and microfiche. The grainy old photos. Such an illusive man! The pieces just didn't fit together. All corners of the world. The rumours. The rare sightings. I emptied the ice tray into the sink, and plunged my face into the freezing water, and tried to put it all together.
I'd arrived at Gotham's at ten, and Sinbob was already at the appointed table. In the flesh! Gazing out at the moonlit skyline, he lit the first of innumerable Old Port cigarillos. The stench was unbelievable.
"Tell me from the beginning," I asked, as our waiter brought the first of many scotch and waters. I noticed Sinbob's water remained untouched, but not the scotch.
"Where to start?" he questioned, in a voice as deep a bassoon, which kind of made the bottom of my feet itch. He looked rather rumpled, like a man who'd spent his life in the trenches. Navy blue suspenders stretched over his considerable girth, and a gravy-stained tie the size of a tablecloth bisected his open suit jacket. Strangely, he looked to be about thirty. It didn't make any sense.
"Start in France." I suggested.
"Well, I was the Emperor for a time" he began. "Until my rather, er, unfortunate exile. For a time there, though, it really looked like we might take over the world. Except for those darn Russian varmints, we might have! He laughed, a deep maniacal throaty laugh that gave way to a fierce coughing fit. A member of Caesar's attentive staff rushed forward to pound him on the back. Apparently they'd seen this performance before.
I nodded. Visions of a Bugs Bunny cartoon from along time ago flooded my mind.
"Of course, when the Revolution came," he paused to light another cigarillo. "I was fortunate to escape into exile ... with a very special treasure."
I'd heard this. The Faberge Egg.
"It was worth a fortune. When I'd finished my time on that darn island, I converted it to currency and purchased passage on a ship to America, and I eventually found my way to Hollywood."
Wiping his mouth with his tie, he gestured to the waiter, who brought another scotch.
I remembered the early footage. Laurel and Hardy. He still resembled the early Laurel… certainly he had the stature, but the hairpiece seemed a little different.
"I grew bored" he sighed, and flicked his ash in a practiced way. "Of course, we had some fun ... Mae West and the rest. But it became tiresome in a hurry."
I slipped a little water into my drink as he gazed off into the distance. "What happened next?"
"Well I met Howard. Howard Hughes. And he began to teach me, about life, about business, about brassieres!" He laughed a throaty laugh.
I hadn't heard this. Howard Hughes! This was the beginning.
"Howard was brilliant! he explained, "A real player, but a little messed up."
My eyes were beginning to get sore. "Go on."
"Well, after Howard, I went back to Europe. Berlin to be exact, and I started singing in a small cabaret there. I was no Caruso, but I knew how to work a crowd. Of course, I held stock in the America Motor Car company, on Hughes' advice, and some aeroplanes, but I still needed the extra money." I nodded, and prodded him to continue.
"I met the most marvelous woman there ... Mata, I called her Hairy on account of… well you don't really need to know about that. Anyway, when the War came I followed her all over."
"But, it couldn't have ended well," I proffered, beginning to feel the effects of the drink.
"No, it's a terrible thing ... to always be on the losing side." he admitted.
"So, what then?" I asked.
"Well, I knew a lot, or rather, I had a lot of valuable information. And I had friends, lots of them ... so, back I went to America!"
He clinked his glass with mine with such force; I was left mopping the table.
Little was known of the post-War years, so I checked my notes. Che Guevera. Joseph Kennedy. "How about Vegas?" I offered.
"Now that was fun!" he bellowed. "The Sands, the Dunes"
I'd seen pictures of him cavorting with Frank, and Dean, and Sammy.
"They called me Buddy, then. Hackett, you know? Man, it was great time, especially when that tramp Angie Dickenson came around."
And the prizefighters. I'd seen him in the black and white stills at ringside, working as a cut man for Sonny Liston.
"Yes, Sonny was amazing, such an animal! Until that kid Clay beat him. You know, he could never please a woman after that. It seemed Clay kicked the man out of him."
"So?" I asked. I was getting drunk now, and we'd only reached the sixties.
"Well, I went to war in Viet Nam for a time, and later returned joined a singing group. The Mamas and Pappas. I wore a drag disguise in that one, but later grew tired of it and faked my death by choking on a ham sandwich."
Mama Cass? My mind reeled.
"And then I got serious in the investment world. Perhaps you heard of George? George Soros? You're looking at him."
"Yep. It went well for a while, but as these go, it finally collapsed all around me."
"So you lost everything?" I was getting messy now. Speaking gibberish.
At this point things become very fuzzy. I recall ordering a bottle of scotch, as our waiter looked visibly tired from refilling our tumblers so often, and Sinbob continued.
"I got out with my wife and the clothes on my back. Literally the clothes on our backs. Luckily, my wife was wearing a skin-tight diamond encrusted catsuit with a sapphire navel. Other than that, it was all diamonds. It fetched a pretty penny."
"So what now?" I muttered.
"Well, I'm putting all my energies into the Stock market. There's a bunch of mooches out there and I live to just mess about with 'em. Especially about one called 'SinOasis.' I've got this shell of a company, and every now and then I go in and I scream 'Accumulate! Accumulate! It's building!' and they DO, and then I yell 'Sell! Sell! They’re all crooks!' and they do THAT too! The lemmings follow me every time! It's bloody hilarious! Ha ha ha!" His eyes gleamed maliciously.
I lifted my head from the icy sink. Now, that was where my memory deserted me. Napoleon Bonaparte? Oliver Hardy? Cass Elliot? George Soros? Buddy Hackett? Sonny Liston? As I toweled off my throbbing temples, and reached into my pocket for my comb, I tried to remember how the evening had ended. He'd said Gold and diamonds… and then he was gone. Still perplexed, I pulled the comb out of my pocket, and started to laugh.
Mata Hairy, indeed! Haaaahhaaahahaaahahahhahaaaaaaahhhahahahaaahahahahaa
the often imitated, never duplicated, wanted by many, hated by non and sometimes creative...