Unlikely 2.0

   [an error occurred while processing this directive]

Editors' Notes

Maria Damon and Michelle Greenblatt
Jim Leftwich and Michelle Greenblatt
Sheila E. Murphy and Michelle Greenblatt

A Visual Conversation on Michelle Greenblatt's ASHES AND SEEDS with Stephen Harrison, Monika Mori | MOO, Jonathan Penton and Michelle Greenblatt

Letters for Michelle: with work by Jukka-Pekka Kervinen, Jeffrey Side, Larry Goodell, mark hartenbach, Charles J. Butler, Alexandria Bryan and Brian Kovich

Visual Poetry by Reed Altemus
Poetry by Glen Armstrong
Poetry by Lana Bella
A Eulogic Poem by John M. Bennett
Elegic Poetry by John M. Bennett
Poetry by Wendy Taylor Carlisle
A Eulogy by Vincent A. Cellucci
Poetry by Vincent A. Cellucci
Poetry by Joel Chace
A Spoken Word Poem and Visual Art by K.R. Copeland
A Eulogy by Alan Fyfe
Poetry by Win Harms
Poetry by Carolyn Hembree
Poetry by Cindy Hochman
A Eulogy by Steffen Horstmann
A Eulogic Poem by Dylan Krieger
An Elegic Poem by Dylan Krieger
Visual Art by Donna Kuhn
Poetry by Louise Landes Levi
Poetry by Jim Lineberger
Poetry by Dennis Mahagin
Poetry by Peter Marra
A Eulogy by Frankie Metro
A Song by Alexis Moon and Jonathan Penton
Poetry by Jay Passer
A Eulogy by Jonathan Penton
Visual Poetry by Anne Elezabeth Pluto and Bryson Dean-Gauthier
Visual Art by Marthe Reed
A Eulogy by Gabriel Ricard
Poetry by Alison Ross
A Short Movie by Bernd Sauermann
Poetry by Christopher Shipman
A Spoken Word Poem by Larissa Shmailo
A Eulogic Poem by Jay Sizemore
Elegic Poetry by Jay Sizemore
Poetry by Felino A. Soriano
Visual Art by Jamie Stoneman
Poetry by Ray Succre
Poetry by Yuriy Tarnawsky
A Song by Marc Vincenz

Join our Facebook group!

Join our mailing list!

Print this article

Who Wants to be a Millionaire
by Ron Spurga

Elwood "Doc" Watson leaned forward in the lounge chair so Francesca could rub coconut oil on his ass. He got a hard on as her fingers worked their way to his balls. She squeezed his balls until she felt him come. He fell backwards with a sigh as tiny white dots flashed in his eyes. Francesca slipped off the top of her red bikini so Doc could suck on her nipples. They tasted like cherry lemon ice. She wrapped her legs around the chair and began to rock up and down in his lap. He kept her nipples in his mouth. The noise from the surf muffled his groan as he came a second time.

“Safe sex,” he thought. “Close, but no cigar.”

"You had your way,
Now you must pay,
I'm glad that you're sorry now. "

The Connie Francis song played over and over in his head as he stared into Francesca’s cocaine-filled eyes. Francesca just liked to please him. He was maybe 60 years old, and she was just 23, but he made her feel so dirty that after he had sex with her, she would run home and scrub her vagina with coarse kitchen soap until there were tears in her eyes. Then, Francesca would sit in her canary-colored bathtub thinking about what he would do to her the next time they were in bed together. And she would shiver in anticipation. Doc resembled Aristotle Onassis but sexier. She liked men who didn't look like her tight-assed father. Doc had heard all the stories about how Onassis and Niarchos competed with each other to see who could bang the most fabulous woman. Niarchos bid Maria Callas, but Onassis trumped him with Jackie O. Even Howard Hughes had Jane Russell. But when they recovered Hughes' body, he looked like fuckin’ Rip Van Winkle. Better forget about Howard Hughes.

Still, Doc was content with Francesca. She had graduated from Immaculate Conception High School on Tortola and kept out of his hair, except when she needed more coke to get herself in the mood for him. Her family was horrified that he was fucking her brains out, but he was too important a man for them to mess with.

He had arrived on Tortola maybe five years ago with a lot of cash and a taste for younger women. He preferred full-bodied girls with lots and lots of ass. He remembered his first wife, Francine, standing in the kitchen of their five story walk-up in Queens, with that ratty-looking nightgown on and her mustache in full bloom over her lip. That and her sagging tits made him shudder.

"I've just gotta make a deposit at the bank,’ he yelled out to her.

Then, into a cab to JFK and the flight to Tortola. It had to seem like he just disappeared. Ten thousand married men walk away from their wives each year in America. And who gives a shit? Besides, Francine was a survivor: she would go on playing Bingo; work with her sisters in the bra factory down the street; and maybe marry the old greaser who ran the fruit stand on Queens Boulevard and who liked old bags. Anyway, they had no kids. He was sterile. She was sterile. Maybe the fuckin' rabbit was sterile. Neither one of them had a nurturing bone in their body. Doc needed sex about every five hours. Francine, like all women, was not all that interested in sex. It had to do with women being born with lower serotonin levels than men, which is why women didn’t crave a constant sexual fix and were depressed and pissed-off most of the time. Which is why he kept Francesca drugged. Doc had read all that somewhere on a subway station wall next to Kathy Boudin's phone number. Besides, Doc had only married Francesca because her relatives were part of the Gambino crew. But they couldn't even give him enough to open a pizza parlor on Queens Boulevard as part of her dowry. Some bullshit about the economy being in a recession. "Recession my ass," thought Doc. That excuse was as lame as blaming that poor schmuck Lee Harvey Oswald for JFK's death. Maybe Onassis was in on it too just to snag Jackie?

Doc remembered the first time he had heard about bauxite. He was sitting at his desk getting splinters up his ass in the New Street Level of the old Irving trust company down on Wall Street. Surrounded by other blue-collar slugs who were waiting to get called for the garbage man's exam.

"It’s called a Bankers Acceptance,” Joe Enos, another clerk told him. "'For bauxite.”

“What the fuck is bauxite?” he thought. “Sounds like something you catch from a two dollar whore.” Doc used to steal rubbers from the drugstore on Elmhurst Avenue for the older guys in the neighborhood to practice on Teresa the Fortune Teller, and they nicknamed him '"Doc" and it stuck.

That night he barricaded himself in the Mike Quill Memorial Library on 168th Street and read up on bauxite. He prided himself on the fact that he understood the technical mumbo-jumbo in the library books. He even had a Certificate of Accomplishment in Chemical Engineering and Air Conditioning Repair from the LaSalle Correspondence School in Chicago. If his father hadn't been such a stumblebum, maybe Doc could have become an electrician or even an engineer.

Who cares! The one thing he had learned after four years of high school with the Jesuits and the Christian Brothers on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx and from the money market traders at Irving Trust was that no one, repeat, no one could predict the future. Life is random. Period. No god. No nothing. Like his hero, Popeye Doyle in The French Connection, he knew that as soon as your feet hit the floor in the morning, you’re on your own. Unlike Doc's lush of a father, Doc knew that you could only count on yourself. You couldn't become a slave to your feelings. He liked the bit in Raging Bull where Jake LaMotta puts ice cubes on balls to keep him from having sex with his wife so he would be even meaner in the boxing ring. Doc loved the movies and lived in all the movies playing inside his head. He read all the movie magazines and kept current on who was going with who.

“Discipline.” thought Doc. “And patience.” You waited. And you watched. He knew that even Warren Buffett was just lucky. Buffett didn't know anything more than anyone else. Besides, Doc knew that “business” was just a ritzy word for stealing. You just waited your turn until your number came up on the wheel. But he knew his turn would have to be soon. Queens was turning into Soweto. No one lived there but spics and sand niggers. All the money had fled to Manhattan. In five years he would be the only white man left on Queens Boulevard.

The hair stood up on the back of his neck. His ears started ringing as he read:

“Bauxite is refined into alumina and ultimately into aluminum which is used to manufacture aluminum cans.”

“Shit,” he thought, “they drink enough beer on Queens Boulevard alone to use up all the aluminum cans in the world.”

Another line caught his attention:

“There is a mothballed bauxite refinery on the British Virgin Island of Tortola which would cost $35 million to build a replacement facility for.”

The next weekend he and Francine took the Cayman Airways propjet to Tortola. Francine thought it was their second honeymoon. Yeah, right!

On the plane, he told Francine his favorite movie joke to get her over her fear of fIying- ­that plus a lot of rum:

“A young boy went up to his father and asked him, “Dad, what is the difference between potentially and realistically?” The father thought for a moment, then answered, “Go ask your mother if she would sleep with Robert Redford for a million dollars. Then ask your sister if she would sleep with Brad Pitt for a million dollars, and ask your brother if he'd sleep with Tom Cruise for a million dollars. Come back and tell me what you learn from that.” So the boy went to his mother and asked, “Would you sleep with Robert Redford for a million dollars?”

The mother replied, “Of course I would. I wouldn't pass up an opportunity like that.”

The boy then went to his sister and asked, “Would you sleep with Brad Pitt for a million dollars?”

The girl replied, “Would I? I would just love to do that! I would be nuts to pass up that opportunity!”

The boy then went to his brother and asked, “Would you sleep with Tom Cruise for a million dollars?”

“Of course,” the brother replied. “Do you know how much a million could buy?”

The boy pondered that for a few days, then went back to his dad. His father asked him, “Did you find out the difference between potentially and realistically?”

The boy replied, “Yes sir. Potentially, we're sitting on three million dollars, but realistically, we’re living with two sluts and a fag.” Francine laughed herself to sleep.

On Tortola, Doc met with Javeri who owned the refinery. Javeri was from India and he hated all white guys because the British had raped his country.

“Make me laugh by laughing about America, and I will sell you the refinery for seven million dollars American.”

This was duck soup for Doc as he raced into his story forgetting about the ringing in his ears:

An Israeli doctor says: “Medicine in my country is so advanced that we can take a kidney out of one man, put it in another and have him looking for work in six weeks.”

A German doctor says:

“That’s nothing, we can take a lung out of one person, put it in another, and have him looking for work in four weeks.”

A Russian doctor says:

“In my country medicine is so advanced we can take half a heart out of one person, put it in another, and have them both looking for work in two weeks.”

The American doctor, not to be outdone, says:

“You guys are way behind. We just took a man with no brains out of Texas, put him in the White house, and now half the country is looking for work.”

­Javeri laughed so hard and for so long that he wet his white Dockers. Doc knew that the refinery was his.

The seven million dollars was easy. At that time on Wall Street, the securities dealers were reluctant to invest in automation. As a result, Doc's desk was pi1ed high with bearer treasury securities. Too many pieces of paper sitting on everyone's desk and no way to keep track of it all. Late one night, Doc sipped eight million dollars worth of Treasury bills into his pocket and then set the whole goddamn department on fire with a copy of SCREW Magazine and his Zippo lighter. By the time the Fire Department arrived, the place was bedlam; three feet deep in piss green water. The bank nor the insurance adjusters could never figure out how much in securities was actually burned up in the fire, so they tripled their best estimate and everyone went home with a profit. Doc conveniently turned 55 years old and volunteered for early retirement. At his retirement party they presented him and Francine with two free passes to the Bronx Botanical Garden and a year's subscription to Modern Pottery Magazine as Doc patted the stolen securities in his pocket.

“Corporate America will pay you peanuts and work you to death if you let them. So burn them before they burn you. Besides, Loyalty had died with JFK.” The next day Doc told Francine he was going to make that deposit at the bank.

Doc knew his number had come up on the wheel. No sooner had he closed the deal on the refinery, then an aluminum shortage erupted, forcing Boeing to offer him ninety million dollars worth of their stock for his refinery so they could continue manufacturing airplanes. He became the largest individual shareholder of Boeing.

Francesca once asked him for the secret of his success, and he told her:

“Crime always pays, baby, it always pays.”

Already his mind was racing to leverage his Boeing shareboldings into an even bigger refinery which recently became available in Jamaica. Maybe it was also time to trade in Francesca for a flashier woman-a white woman this time. “Who says when you try black you never go back?” But he wouldn't tell Francesca until after he had drilled her one last time that night. He was drinking up her youth, vampire-like. It was good to be the king. He'd like to try the weapons game after this. Maybe sell F-16 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates at One Hundred Million Dollars per plane. All it would take was some cash in an envelope to one of those Southern asshole senators. Even the ringing in his ears had stopped.

You had your way,
Now you must pay,
I'm glad that you're sorry now.

E-mail this article

Ron Spurga grew up during the anti-war movement of the 1960's and worked as a community organizer on Robert Kennedy's presidential campaign. He subsequently founded L.E.S.C.I.A., a political satire theatre company which is producing his latest play about the aftermath of 9/11, "Alphabet City." His poems have been published in France and in the Netherlands.