A meeting of the minds solve one of life's mysteries in a corner of the Popcorn Grill.
| Welcome to Glassport, a backwater swirl widely over looked on tourist brochures and no more than a pin point on a map, where occasionally the big thinking happens. The current state of affairs of steel towns of shadows past, are that new empty lots are springing up along both sidewalks of Monongahela Avenue, the only traffic are people in a hurry to drive through, the only business doing anything is the ice cream stand, particularly when the high school football stadium emptied out. Beyond that, the two major draws of attraction are drinking or going to a twelve-step meeting. All of which is a far cry from decades ago when the steel industry was the only game in town and that game rocked the world.
As in any cobwebbed and forgotten place, whisperings of discontent or notices of dissatisfaction are part of the background static. Though when pressed, most people would back track from that negativity, and at least and levels of radio, press and film tow the company line; Everything is fine it will change. The same line that repeated by rote for decades, a fallacy that remains invisible. It is often said that in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king. This king, is a man named Sylas McCarthy, a somebody among nobodies, meets with his progeny. While the conversation falls beneath the conventional wisdom of intellectual polish in polite company, it takes place in a dank corner of Carrol's Popcorn Grill.
"Well let me tell you a story, now I'm not going to tell you how I know it so take it for what it's worth. Way back in the day a young girl, fifteen-year-old girl got sexually assaulted in the shower by the supply vendor for a rehab around here. How'd she get there? Her dad's an asshole, figured this was his big chance to get out of spending more money on an adopted daughter he really didn't want...She got this bad personality problem, likes running with the wrong crowd and got picked up by the local po-po for smoking weed. Well, he takes the easy way out kisses a few asses and quietly puts her in this half-way house for juvenile delinquents."
"What? Sounds like a shitty deal. What trailer park she come from?" Colan the largest man there asked as he lit up a cigarette.
"Nah, nothing like that, dad's a UAW union man...Top ten percent income bracket in the United States at the time. He's just a cheap ass bastard. Half the people at his funeral were church people, the other half immediately family and even less went to the interment at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies. Tells you how popular he was in life don't it?" Sylas answered with a chuckle.
"What's the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies?" Christian Roy asked. He was half-brother to the other younger men there. Roy is his mother's name, as he is a result of a one-night stand between Sylas and a rogue waitress.
"Extension of Arlington National Cemetery...Where dead soldiers are buried...Now back to the main thrust of the narrative. Anyhow, the vendor sexually assaults her in the shower. That there is part of a bigger pile of shit we ain't going into anyway. She screams, he gets smacked around by a few of the girls there, don't leave an impression but it's enough ruckus to get the attention of the local police...They're only a block away anyhow. They show up, can't cover it up, so away he goes. Just so you know the correction officers made a regular habit of using him as a punching bag...So he's sitting in a briefing room looking like what he was, a whipped dog, orange jumpsuit, handcuffs and one of our boys walks in. Our man from the Southside, says he's a lawyer, walked in through the proverbial back door you know, introduces himself makes nice and this guy says 'What do you people have to do with this? Seems the Southside's a bit out of its depth here...Yeah, I know my people and your people do business, but what gives?' Well, our man says we want you to change your plea. This guy's is either stupid or punch drunk, maybe both, and he says his lawyer told he's got a good case and will probably be found innocent on a couple of technicalities and so what anyhow, she's just a kid. He then says you know how much money it takes to bribe Judge So-and-So? Now at this point the Southside goon smiles and says, wait for it...We're going to fix the trial so you're found innocent..."
The group at the table smiled maliciously with a mild round of tittering.
"I had the same reaction myself," Sylas went on without skipping a beat. "That bozo after his jaw hits the table asks why. Now here's the real twist of irony. Seems the underaged victim that's the subject of this parable, her big brother's an up-and-coming star for operations Downtown. He knows all about it too and he ain't too happy. Bozo's told that guy, needs a few more bodies for this that and the other thing. Guess what? Southside man looks at him and says when he walks out of the courthouse he has two options, run or work for her big brother. Either way, he got about three months to suck air down. Now he pleads guilty and takes ten to fifteen and they ship his ass upstate to Pine Grove. Now thirty days into it, he's found hanging in his cage...Ruled a suicide."
"That's slick as Beaver Paste! Hah!" Colan erupted slapping the table.
"Beaver Paste?" Q-Bits mouthed as he stared at his brother. "Just where do you get that?"
"Down at the pharmacy...Comes in a 42oz. jar for ten bucks..." Colan responded.
"Beaver Paste?" Christian Roy said casting a questioning gaze at his half-brother, Colan.
"Hold it...You mean to tell me there's something called 'Beaver Paste' and it's sold over the counter?" Q-Bits went on leaning forward, resting his elbows on the table.
"I knew you guys needed a sister," Sylas mused with a tinge of regret. He then said, looking at Colan, comically asked, "...And how do you know about Beaver Paste?"
"It's a female hygiene product," Colan answered blankly. "When I'm not hanging around you people, I have a real job..."
"Driving a delivery truck isn't a real job..." Q-Bits commented.
"Be that as it may, if you drove a delivery truck, you'd be delivering Miss Cleo's Beaver Paste by the pallet. The way I unload it, it must be flying off the shelves. I mean, yeah I get it, but how do you use that much in a month?" Colan shrugged and then muttered something about why it smells like coconuts.
"Point taken," Christian Roy noted. "Considering anatomy and everything, how do you use that much of anything in a month?"
"Hey!" Sylas shouted. "Get your minds out of the gutter and focus. The more you worry about Beaver Paste, a product you guys will never have a personal use for, you over look the moral of the story."
"Moral of the story? This has a moral? I thought it was a how to guide," Christian Roy spoke up. "If there's a moral, I'd say keep your Richard out of underaged girls or know who her brother is before you do..."
"Never take...Ask?" Q-Bits answered. "Another option is...Hold it, you're not giving us all the details. I say this because who's going into a rehab center and getting his freak on as a vendor? That's asking for it. Now I grant you, there's always a sick son of a retarded onion that'll do anything, anywhere, anytime for a nickel. So, it's plausible but not likely. If you want some Easter eggs, I'd say what goes around comes around and the dead guy asked for it so he got it."
"You can run but you can't hide? There's some people who you just don't play with?" Colan suggested. "I really don't know. I'm still trying to understand why Beaver Paste smells like coconuts, considering where you're putting it."
Q-Bits rolled his eyes and muttered 'Oh, Dear God.'
"Before you explain the story with another story," Christian Roy announced. "Most people wouldn't put a contract hit out on their sister's assailant. I mean that's some money to begin with. Another point, society would consider the victim here culpable, just another pothead from a trailer park, who cares? Not saying it's right or anything...Not having a sister myself, but if I did, I'd at least consider whacking him as an option."
"Boy, boy and rockhead," Sylas chuckled looking at each of them. "Here's the moral of the story with another story. A man goes off to the circus, he sees the Freak Show and gawks at the fat tattooed chick, he goes to the Big Top and watches the highwire act, twits flying from trapezes and a confused bear riding a unicycle...All the while eating peanuts, popcorn and cotton candy. But you know what he doesn't see?"
The three sons of Sylas McCarthy stared back blankly.
"Himself. That's the problem everyone had in the first story. To one degree or another, none of them saw themselves. They were off to the circus," Sylas smiled.