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The Musician... see you among the stars

Chapter 22 - Raymond

New York City Cops

Chapter 22 - Raymond

I was with Ritchie in my apartment telling him what had happened with the cake fight at the Mafia club. We were both laughing very hard. Boy was it funny. Then the doorbell rang and I answered the door and it was some policemen. I said, Yes, can I help you? The police asked if Raymond lived here. I replied, Yes he does. Is he home, the police asked. I said, No he isn´t....I haven´t seen him for two days......What happened? The police replied, He has been giving out bad checks to many clothing stores, The policeman showed me the checks and then said, There is over three thousand dollars in bad checks here. I replied in shock that I didn´t know where he was or when he was going to return. The police went on to say that they had run a check on him and found that he was wanted for investigation of murder. I said, Murder. Yes, they replied. We have been looking for him for months. Then the police gave me his card and asked me to contact him when Raymond showed up.

I returned to Ritchie who had been waiting upstairs and conveyed to Ritchie what the police told me. Ritchie could not believe it and conveyed to me that he thought that I was in the middle of it. Then the landlord knocked on my door and he asked me when I´m going to pay the rent. I asked him what he meant. He said you guys haven´t paid the rent for two months. I told the landlord that Raymond asked me for my half of the rent because he was going upstairs to pay you. I asked, Did he pay you. The landlord said, No. Again in shock I asked the landlord to wait a few days so that I could confront Raymond. The landlord who was very nice said OK. Then Ritchie said that he had never seen someone obtain such great problems in a very short period of time. Ritchie had a great sense of humor. I laughed at Ritchie and said that I couldn´t believe this shit. Ritchie asked what I was going to do, and I told him that I was going to confront this mutherfucker. The I realized that this mutherfucker took my rent money and made believe he was going to pay the rent and pocketed my money and that he really doesn´t have a job and that is why he has all these expensive clothes. He´s writing bad checks. To top it off, he´s under investigation for murder. Suddenly I felt the world fall between my feet.

Ritchie said, Let´s look at what is in his closet. We walked into Raymond´s room and opened his closet. Ritchie first saw a tan Cashmere coat and said, I like this. Ritchie then put it on and said, Wow this is really nice. I said it´s just a coat. Ritchie said while trying the coat out, You know how much something like this costs? I said, How much. Ritchie replied, Around $500.00. I said that it didn´t look like $500.00. Ritchie said that this coat was very expensive and would cost around $400.00. He said, If he doesn´t pay you just take the coat. That was an idea, and I proceeded to try it on, but I was too tall for it...it didn´t fit. We looked around in the closet and saw a lot of silk shirts, and when we picked up his shoes we found a loaded gun. I freaked out, and said to Ritchie that this whole mess stinks. Ritchie kept on looking through Raymond´s pockets and found a Mastercard credit card in someone else´s name. I told Ritchie that it was probably no good, but Ritchie said since we are broke, let´s go out and see if we could have a big dinner on it. They don´t check in the restaurant. I told Ritchie that I was hungry and willing to try. Ritchie then said that he wanted to get some shaving cream and shave first. I said OK. Then Ritchie put on Raymond´s Cashmere coat and went to the corner store to get shaving cream. In what was supposed to be a 5 minute trip turned out to be 25 minutes. Ritchie returned with all this stuff and an incredible story.

He told me that he went into the store with this Cashmere coat on and when he went in the clerk said, Good Evening, Mr. Serretta. Ritchie, whose last name sounds quite similar, was surprised and he wondered how the clerk knew his name. However, that was not the name that the clerk had said. The name the clerk said was something unbelievably similar. Anyway, Ritchie said to the clerk, Do you have shaving cream. The clerk, said Yes Mr. Serretta. Would you like your usual? Ritchie just went along with it and answered, Yes. The clerk then proceeded to bring out about five items which were, shaving cream, a fancy razor blade set, after shave lotion, after shower cream, and Cologne. Ritchie was surprised at all the stuff and the clerk said, Would that be all, Mr. Serretta? Ritchie still went along with it and said, Yes. Then the clerk asked, Is this going to be cash or charge, Mr. Serretta? Then Ritchie still in shock and trying not to laugh thought about the phony Mastercard that he had on him and thought that this might be the opportunity to try it out and see if it would work. So Ritchie replied while taking out the Mastercard, Charge. The clerk replied to Ritchie, That´s not necessary Mr. Serretta I´ll just charge it on your bill. Ritchie with shock again just went along. The clerk then asked Ritchie to sign for it and Ritchie put down a mark. Then the clerk said, Since your such a good customer, Mr. Serretta I´m going to throw-in this special leather case that the company makes for this product at no charge. Ritchie said thank you and returned to the apartment.

I couldn´t believe the story. It was so fantastic and I was laughing like crazy as Ritchie was telling it to me. Then Ritchie said that he was going back to see if he could get more. I told Ritchie that he was pushing it and that I was hungry and Ritchie said that he thought it was the coat. He said, It´s the coat, when I put on the coat I felt something. I know it´s the coat. Then Ritchie, very excited, proceeded to return to the store to try it again. I told Ritchie that he was pushing his luck. I waited for Ritchie, and he returned with $200.00 worth of more stuff. The year, 1969 was nearing the end, and this was a lot of money. All sorts of nonessential things. Ritchie laughingly said that they didn´t have too much there, so he got what he could. He said that the clerk was glad that he returned and tried to give him the entire store. We were laughing real hard. It was a break from the real shit I had to eventually put-up with, when Raymond would arrive back home. I then said to Ritchie, Let´s eat. Ritchie and I proceeded to find a place to eat. I told Ritchie that I did not want to eat in the neighborhood. I said lets hop the train downtown somewhere.

We took the train downtown and I told Ritchie that our best bet was to get off on 34th Street. We might find a restaurant with the Mastercard logo on the door. Mastercard was new and not too many stores had carried it yet. As we exited the station and a funky looking man came up to us and gave us two discount tickets to attend a Scientology class nearby.. We walked around 34th Street and Broadway looking for one who displayed the logo. We checked and checked. Finally, the only restaurant to carry the logo was at this big hotel on 34th and Broadway. Ritchie with his cashmere coat, both of us looking like funky hippies, walked into the hotel lobby, and we proceeded directly to the hotels high class restaurant. We walked in and stopped. The lights were very low, this sweet music was playing, and they had a beautiful fireplace. The management spotted us immediately and thought that some bums that mistakenly walked in off the street. They rushed over and tried to throw us out. We were very hungry. Then Ritchie said quickly and desperately, We are with the show. I looked at Ritchie confusingly. The manager said, What show? Ritchie replied, Hair. The Broadway show, Hair, was the hottest show on Broadway. The manager was caught by surprise and said, You guys are with Hair. Ritchie replied, Yes, we´re staying here at the hotel. The Manager then apologized over and over again and he proceeded to give us the best table in the house. The manager then gave us a bottle of champagne on the house for making a terrible mistake. They had sat us right by the fireplace and after we ordered our steaks, two violin players came to us and played some beautiful music. Ritchie and I were cracking up and we did not hide our laughter. Then Ritchie acted like an arrogant customer, ordering people to get this and that. We spent about 3 hours eating everything from soup to nuts then Ritchie asked for the bill. The bill at that time was $78.00 without tip. Ritchie gave them the phony Mastercard and they became surprised. We watched the manager run it through the machine hoping he would not pick-up the phone to call for an approval. They did not. Then they came back for a signature and Ritchie added a $25.00 tip and signed it. He took the Mastercard and put it in his wallet. I looked at Ritchie and Ritchie looked at me, and we got up to quickly exit. The manager walked us to the door, and Ritchie felt the Scientology tickets in his cashmere coat pocket. He took the tickets out and secretly put the tickets into the managers, hand and said, Here are some tickets to the show, bring your wife and kids. The manager´s eyes lit-up. The manager repeated over and over, Thank you, Thank you. As soon as we proceeded into the hotel lobby to exit, Ritchie and I ran like hell into the train station to head home.

When we arrived home, Raymond was not there. Ritchie and I decided to go to sleep from the great meal. That night, late, I heard Raymond walk in the door and go to his bedroom. Ritchie was sleeping on the floor and awoke. I walked up to Raymond´s bedroom and knocked on the door. Ritchie followed. Raymond welcomed me into the room and I said to him, The landlord came to me for the rent, and he told me that you didn´t pay him. Raymond said, I got the money right here. I said, Why didn´t you pay him? Raymond didn´t like that kind of direct confrontation and started to show body language of anger. I then quickly changed the subject and told him that the police came by the house and were looking for you because of the bad checks you are writing and that they said you were under investigation of murder. Raymond then changed his attitude to something much calmer and asked me to sit down. Ritchie then entered the room and Raymond said hello to Ritchie. Raymond then told us his story. He said, That one night about a year ago, I had a chance to make some good money selling drugs. I had hooked-up a deal with these guys who I had arrange to pick me up. There were four guys, two in the front and two in the back. I sat in-between the two guys in the back. We went riding and as we disgust the deal they decided to rip me off and the two guys in the back started beating on me. I was getting hurt left and right. While I was struggling to protect myself, I had felt a can opener on the floor of the back seat and picked it up and slashed one of the guys in the face who were beating on me. The guy ridding shotgun in the front pulled out a gun and shot me point blank in the stomach. I blanked out and when we arrived at a red light the two guys in the back seat took off. I was bleeding very badly and I guess they thought I was dead. I was still coherent, but I could not move. Then I heard the two guys discussing that they were going to dispose of my body in the Bronx. I heard them say, Let´s dump his body off in the Bronx. They thought I was dead. I slowly reached to my leg where I had a gun taped. I pulled out the gun and when they stopped for a red light I quickly shot them both in the back of the head. I then opened the door of the car as the car was still moving and I fell out on the street. Cars were going by, but no one would stop to help me. This was about 2:00am. While I was lying on the street I looked up at the sign to see where I was, and I noticed that a friend lived nearby. Shot with a bullet in the stomach and loosing blood drastically I crawled to his elevator and rang his apartment bell and then I passed out. My friend called the hospital and got rid of the gun.

The police however was faced with a dilemma. They had me who nearly died, and who the hospital said was a miracle that I lived. They had two guys´ dead in the front seat and they assumed that I did it. However, I told them I didn´t and didn´t know anything. Raymond then said, There you have it. The cops are trying to pin this on me, and they can´t. Ritchie was in total shock and did not want to say anything. I showed false sadness of body language all the while thinking that this fucking guy is nuts and I got to get away from this. I said to Raymond, I´m sorry about your situation but what about the rent. Raymond looked at me in pity. I said angrily, Look Raymond, You got to pay the fucking rent tomorrow. That´s my fucking money you took. And as I continued to pressure him I could see his body and facial language turn into evil, like he wanted to kill, and suddenly I remembered the loaded gun in his closet. Raymond quickly looked toward the closet and I had to think fast. I then said, Raymond, it´s all right. I´m sorry for coming down on you... I´m upset..... I´ll pay the landlord the rent due tomorrow and you reimburse me when you can OK? Raymond´s body language calmed down and changed drastically and he said, Thank you for understanding and being so thoughtful..... I´ll pay you back. Here I only have 100 bucks...take it I said OK. Now let´s get some sleep and I´ll see you tomorrow.

Ritchie and I walked back to the bedroom and I told Ritchie in a whispering voice that I wanted to get the fuck out of here tomorrow. I´m not going to be involved in this shit. It was hard for Ritchie and I to sleep but we did. The next morning Raymond had gone off somewhere. I told Ritchie you wanna go somewhere. Ritchie asked where I wanted to go and I suggested Florida. Ritchie said he was into it. I said we could drive there and leave all this shit behind. Ritchie said you want to leave today. I said yes in a couple of hours. Ritchie said that he was going to get I´m going to get the car ready and change the points, plugs and wires. I gave Ritchie the money and waited for him to finish the car. I called Fina to tell her what had happened and that Ritchie and I were going to Florida. Fina was shocked and agreed that I needed to get out of there soon.

Then my ex girlfriend Barbara who introduced me to Raymond through her girlfriend called me from Canada

where she was working. She had spoke with Fina and heard the bad news about Raymond. Barbara apologized and asked me why I picked Florida. I told her it was real close and it would be good to get some sunshine. Barbara said that Florida was a terrible place where only old people go to die. Barbara asked me if I have ever been to Colorado. I told her no. Barbara suggested that we go to Colorado. I told her that I didn´t know anybody there. Barbara said that she had a good friend that lived in Vail that Ritchie and I could stay at and that if I went to Vail she would join me there in about two or three weeks. I then said to Ritchie, Hey Ritchie, you wanna go to Colorado. Ritchie said, Colorado. I said, yes... Barbara is on the phone and she is going to give us the name of someone we could stay with....and she said she will join us later on. Ritchie said, OK. Why not. I never have been out west. Then I said to Barbara that Ritchie and I had never been out west... it would be interesting. Barbara said that she had a friend named Jake Jacobson who was a ski instructor in Vail, Colorado. She told me that once we arrived in Vail all we had to do was go to the only bar in Vail and ask for Jake. It´s a small town and everyone knows one another. Jake will hook you up. That´s all you need to do or know. I asked Barbara, Are you sure? I don´t want to make a long trip out there and get lost... we don´t have very much money. Barbara said, Hey look, I heard that Boulder, Colorado is a very happening place right now...a lot of people are hanging out there. It´s a wonderful beautiful place right off the Rocky Mountains. You can go to Vail and stay with Jake until I get there, then we will all go to Boulder to hang out, and meet some wonderful people. It beats Florida, any day! Boulder, Colorado is happening! Go to Vail, and I´ll see you there in a few weeks. I said, OK. We´ll see you there. Barbara replied, Say hello to Jake and tell him I´ll see him in a couple of weeks.

Ritchie had finished the car, and came in the apartment to wash his hands. I had conveyed everything to Ritchie, and he was very excited. I also became very excited, and the more I think of it, the more I love it. It´s going to be an adventure. Fina called back to said that she spoke with Barbara again, and heard that we were going to Colorado. I told Fina yes and Fina said that when Barbara returns to New York that she would also be going to go to Colorado to meet us. Ritchie and I were so delighted that Fina decided to come out west with Barbara.

Then Ritchie went out and started the car, but the car would not start. I asked Ritchie what the problem was and Ritchie said that the timing is probably off. He said that he had taken the distributor out to change the points and he had thought that he had put the distributor back in the same spot. He tried to reposition the distributor, but each time it wouldn´t work. Ritchie said he needed a timing light to get it in the right position. I suggested a gas station one block over on 85th Street and down two blocks by the entrance of the Westside Highway heading north. I told him that we could push the Volkswagen because it is all downhill. Ritchie said let´s do it. We pushed the car into the gas station and told the mechanic that the timing was off. We warned him to reposition the distributor. The mechanic told us that he was real busy, but told us to come back around 5pm. When Ritchie and I returned at 5pm, the mechanic told us it would cost $85.00. I said, $85.00. The mechanic told Ritchie that he had to replace the points, plugs, and wires because they were very old and that was why it wouldn´t start. Then Ritchie angrily told the guy that he had just this morning replaced all the parts. He explained that the reason he couldn´t start the car was because he couldn´t reposition the timing of the distributor without timing light. The mechanic told Ritchie that the parts he replaced were probably bad, and that was why he had to replace them. The mechanic told Ritchie it was $85.00. Ritchie and I told him that we didn´t have $85.00. The mechanic replied that if we didn´t pickup the car by 6pm, the shop would be closed, and that they charged $45.00 a day to store a car. Ritchie and I in shock went into conference. Ritchie and I knew that the guy was snowing us. I told Ritchie that if we paid this guy $85.00, we won´t be able to have enough money for the trip. I said to Ritchie, Look, the car is parked directly in front of the place. If they keep it there all night we could come back early in the morning and steal the car back. Ritchie loved the idea. I went back to the mechanic and told him that we would not be able to raise the money until 8PM. If we came back at 8:00 would you charge us for an extra day? The mechanic said that if we paid at 8PM he would tell the guy who pumps the gas not to charge us for the extra day. I said, Thank you very much. We´ll be back at eight. Ritchie and I then went back to the apartment.

On the walk back home, I told Ritchie that the mechanic thinks that we are going to come back at 8PM. I don´t think that he will lock the car up because he leaves at six. Therefore, I think they´re going to leave the car where it was, and we could come back and steal it. Fuck him. I have a screwdriver at home and we could pop the ignition. I asked Ritchie if he knew how to do that, and he said he did. We then returned to the gas station at 2:00 in the morning and I was right. The car was still sitting in front of the gas station. The gas station was open, and the lonely attendant was sleeping with his head down on the desk. I said to Ritchie perfect. The guy is sleeping. Let´s be very quiet. So Ritchie and I sneaked up on the car. We entered the car and released the break, and the car began to roll downhill toward the entrance of the West Side Highway heading north. On the other side of the street is the exit of, 85th Street from the north bound West Side Highway. As we headed to the bottom of the hill which was only about 50 yards from the gas station, Ritchie quickly turned the car toward the other side of the street blocking the exit of the West Side Highway. The next sucker car that comes off the highway must push us, because we had blocked the path. Then Ritchie quickly popped the ignition to the on position. All we needed now was a push uphill to get it going. It was very dark and quiet, as we waited for the next sucker to come of the highway. We waited and waited impatiently. We were afraid that the gas attendant would suddenly wake up. We were hoping that some car would not come from the other direction to get gas, and wake the guy up. Then finally we saw some car lights coming and it turned out to be a police car. Ritchie and I freaked. I quickly ran over to the cop car, and told him that we had stalled out. We asked, not that he had a choice, if he would push us up the hill so we could get it restarted. Luckily, the cop was real nice and agreed. So Ritchie and I hopped into the Volkswagen, and the cop pushed us with his police car up the hill past the attendant who was still sleeping. As the police car and we passed the gas station, the Volkswagen kicked in, and we waved to the police thanks and we returned back to the apartment. I said to Ritchie as we were both laughing in tears, Could you imagine if the attendant woke up and saw the police car pushing us away from the gas station? We arrived back to the apartment, but Raymond still had not returned.

Ritchie went back home to Long Island to get some clothes, and his Volkswagen blew-up. The engine finally gave way. Ritchie called me to tell me the bad news, and we had to decide what to do. I told Ritchie about these ads in the Village Voice about car delivery where they pay you to deliver a car anywhere in the United States. The next morning Ritchie called and got a car immediately that was going to Utah. That evening Ritchie arrived at my apartment with a nice new compact station wagon. He did it all in one day.

All he had to do was put down a one hundred dollar deposit and when he arrived at the delivered destination he would receive $100.00 plus his returned deposit. The car had to be delivered in four days to receive the $100.00 salary. We quickly grabbed some clothes. I took all of Raymond´s silk shirts and Ritchie took Raymond´s Cashmere coat, and I grabbed my paisley pink Fender Stratocastor guitar and we headed out to Colorado.

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