When The Blues Was Dues- Hard Times In Babylon
… Frankie Riley needed a drink bad, as bad as man with a three day itch, unquenched, needed a drink. He wouldn’t have been fussy either, he needed no old -time, good times, high- roller high shelf scotch, maybe bonded Haig& Haig, nor even low-shelf Jim Bob’s distilled essence of scotch (or rye whiskey, or bourbon or whatever you wanted to call it, call it for that honey you were trying, desperately trying, to get to take a shot straight up in order for her to accept your easy rider proposition without a slap in the face, and face it, without it young girl hurting as was often the case with those fresh flowers once she accepted) when he had stated out in drink-dom, back in the back woods days when Jim Bob was the only one who would sell to underage wild corner boys from Louisville (and even then he was the only one of his corner boy crowd, the crowd that used to hang around Colonel Bob’s Drive-In , that Jim Bob would sell to once he knew that Frankie had kin, known kin, from around those back water hill and hollows of eastern Kentuck, around Harlan County).
Nor, in a pinch, did he need hard liquor at all, some sweet berry wine, some hobo tramp bum railroad jungle Thunderbird that he had become exceedingly used to, if not exceedingly fond of, would do if he could just get back to that old Baltimore& Ohio siding over near Steubenville where the brethren would give him the succor of a few swigs of the stuff. Hell, although he would not, like some tramps that he knew, stoop to burning up sterno, or distilling wood alcohol, a cheap beer, maybe a local brand, like the Knickerbocker that he used to drink when he went to school up in Boston would do. Even the thought of that old time brew, cheap and in giant imperial quarts to get a little extra quantity (purchased, under-aged purchased, via a local wino bum, who knows maybe now a fellow traveler that he might have met on the road the last few years when he himself went on the bum, who would purchase the goods as long as he got his bottle of Thunderbird or Tokay for his efforts) make his thirst, his need, just that much greater.
He resolved to put drink thoughts, the thought of getting a drink thought, out of his mind and concentrate on trying to make it through the next few minutes while his drink lust hit its peak. It helped, helped sometimes to take stock of how he had gone downhill, gone downhill kind of fast from the days when he rolled the dice on Wall Street for old Smith Barney and earned some big numbers and make some big money for his investors before the roof fell in. His personal roof, not some bogus recession, or depression, or bull or bear market noise. Hell he knew how to make money, make money hand over fist, in any kind of market, if there was a market, and if there wasn’t, he would make one like he did on the Argentina futures stock dump when the stuff was selling for ten cents on the dollar. That was beauty, they might still be talking about that one on the street when they wanted to talk about the days when men (and a few women too) knew how to take chances for keeps, and not cry if things didn’t work out.
But he could only keep that thought for so long because then the hard times part would come crashing in. Sure whiskey, high-shelf whiskey, that bonded Haig & Haig, until all hours of the night (and then day) was part of it, a little at the beginning, and sure a whole range of drugs was part of it too when he was really in the clover, was really making markets, and would buy a kilo of something, usually cocaine or heroin wholesale and pass the stuff out for gifts (and a few sniffs and hits for himself when he was feeling blue or whiskey-saturated, sometimes he said to keep the demons away). And sure too part of it was the gambling, gambling on everything that moved, man or beast, sometimes on stuff that would not move (betting, side-betting for a hundred, two hundred a whack whether something would or would not move for kicks, he won or lost thousands on a single game, it didn’t matter, only the action, the game market mattered), that began to take up his interest, and time, more and more rather making money for his clients, but it really got out of hand when he fell short on his gambling debts, and began grabbing dough from his clients’ funds, or wherever he could cadge some serious dough, until he got caught. And then one of the roofs fell in.
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