“ROCKY,” THE MONSTROUS HOMOPHOBIC DWARF And then there was Rocky. Getting to know Rocky, really getting to know him and no end of the wrinkles of Rocky’s evil being made the entire tele-marketing experience worth its gruesome while. Rocky stood about four feet six inches tall and had the head of a serious old-fashioned cast-iron gas lantern. In analogy to Boris Karloff and Boris wannabees the lantern tapers from a wide square top to a slightly less wide, angular, squarish bottom and to a jutting jaw; a true Butthead in other words, very early vintage, Rocky has lobster claws for hands and these claws are attached to fragile, thin, stubby, shortish forearms, and these forearms are joined by stiffish, creaky, underdeveloped, flattish, gnarled elbows to equally weak upper arms. One of Rocky’s feet is a club, and Rocky’s hideous bray lacks no compunctions about threatening to use it as such. Perhaps a malformation due to thalidomide or one or the other wonders of the chemical industry that has wreaked havoc in the agricultural lands of which the Yakima Indians have been dispossessed in south-central Washington, on the eastern side of the Cascades, this freak of nature must have been, until the mid-fifties, one of the most monstrous beings ever to emerge - be expelled? crawl out? Plucked? - from between a woman's thighs, and this no doubt is why his natural parents had so unnaturally deposited him sans dog tag on another family's doorstep. At which point “Rocky’s” luck started changing for the better: not many such depositees get as lucky as Rocky did, his finders keepers had backed Rocky up, when Rocky got an A in the compulsory driving class but, for insurance reasons, never was allowed to put claw to wheel, these parents taught him how, and so on; but maybe the world's luck started changing for the worse, because once you got to know Rocky it was a hard call whether the old adage about drowning the runt of the litter should not have been invoked in this instance, and so spare the world the expense and pain that Rocky brought into it. Rocky was not just an oversized lobsterish dwarf, he was also an overweight dwarf, Rocky looked pregnant, and though when he was in good humor I tended to over-look his many physical malformations, yet when the ague sputtered out of him, which was most of the time, it appeared that Rocky was pregnant with hate and that he might give birth, at any moment, to a Baker's dozen of little Calibans, it was at such a furious rate that hate, the death instinct as he so easily personified it when love so easily ceased to bind it, kept geysering forth from out of Rocky’s mouth, hate's vent. Day men receive few incoming calls on their own lines, the lines are not only nearly always off hook, and usually its identity is blocked, and the number is given out most discretely, which is why there's a common "call-back" line. Rocky’s lobster claws, however, to operate his own telephone, required a headset, but with his head-set attached to his lantern Rocky was "on line" and unable to receive incoming calls. Only with headset off could Rocky take the few incoming calls from the few people who had the number of his direct line, but to be able to do that Rocky had to take off the headset and lean one elbow down to his desk to use the amplified speaker phone there, arduously clutching and squeezing an ordinary receiver to the side of his head while the speaker phone broadcast his wife Donna's venom. - Rocky had to use a pencil to dial his numbers. Many a morning, at City of Hector, as I had only occasionally at Cain+Able Productions, I put “Rocky’s” headset on for him, placing the set over Rocky’s lantern top and its sparse growth of porcupine hair; fitting a flat, black, three inch long and half-inch-wide placer just above Rocky’s right ear, locating the ear-phone pad over his left ear and then "scrinching" [cinch + crunch, Rocky’s contribution to English vocabulary and the lingo of tele-marketing: "Scrinch, Michael"] tight the two metal bands that, via a plastic cinch, connected the two parts of the placer-ear-phone caliper contraption. The penultimate step in this procedure was to adjust the transparent, plastic straw and its metal-tip microphone in front of Rocky’s small anal mouth that, like a baby's, frequently needed wiping, and finalment - the last touch in this procedure of dressing Rocky into the world of the electron – I, or whoever, would clip the small, plastic, gliding, clothes-pin-like snap of his headset's telephone line on to Rocky’s T-shirt, clipping it on in just such a way as neither to leave too much nor too little slack in finicky Rocky’s line to give him sufficient room to twist his lantern about. - Rocky’s T-shirt was invariably as thick with dog-hair as any dog owner's carpet, so that Rocky mostly smelled like Begera, a dog with the kind of doggy smell that you who liked doggy-smelling dogs would really like, thus transferring some of my fondness for dogs, but that was all, onto Rocky.
Rocky can, with great accuracy, be described as a compulsive, rabidly uninhibited hater. Most of all, inveterately, Rocky hates homosexuals, which must have been, and so obviously continued to be, his greatest fear: when Rocky was young, being a freak in Yakima, being homosexual was probably the freakiest thing those who had replaced the Yakis [undoubtedly related to the Yaquis far further south, and not only linguistically] could fear being, and Rocky being already several degrees to the left of the pale, being homosexual he would have been completely off the scale, everyone with an accent was suspect. Freud's "narcissism of the small difference" loomed like a Sasquatch in his nightmares; and so the easiest way for me to get a rise out of Rocky was to threaten to have a mild lunch with him at the Wild Rose. Invariably this joke produced a babbling brook of horrified, anxious homo-phobic and anal-reaction-formationed blusterering. Living in a world whose homosexuality he feared closing in on him, Rocky yet is sharp enough to mimic joining the enemy. The Swinger Ron Badger explaining to Rocky that he'd gotten some of the best young pussy at spots like the Wild Rose left Rocky completely non-plussed, and Rocky had to seriously ask how you might make love to two women at one and the same time. In that abattoir of language abattoirs, the City of Hector, “Rocky,” who had to pretend to be one of the Joneses when it came to making claims of heterosexual exploits, managed to achieve the zenith of the grotesque, the zenith of the nadir as it were, and though I spare my readers little, this nadir is one of them. Obviously in fragile though sufficient sturdiness to make it to work nine mornings out of ten, riddled with castration anxieties, it was anything but a surprise that Rocky lived in terror of the consequences from A.I.D.S. Yet Rocky fancied that he had the good looks of Rock Hudson, which however, homophobic that Rocky was, put his vanity in the quandary that if he claimed to be as good looking as Rock Hudson they might also think that he might be as gay as Rock Hudson had been, of allowing people to compare him to Rock Hudson which is why, because he was so hateful, he was called Rocky in the first place, but then hated for the knowledge of what had contributed to Rock Hudson’s death. He did and didn't want to be associated with Rock Hudson not even in the slightest verbal fashion except in the mirror by himself: was terrified of the consequences, socially and personally, and how all these intertwine, of really being him. But what with all of Rocky’s racism [at his training camp, “Intelligent Marketing Solutions,” Rocky had kept a noosed rope with thirteen knots in his desk] and taking his hate out on features that differed from his despair at being so far off the map off the standard lower middle class American pink-skinned W.A.S.P. model, Rocky [of course] flinched the first time I called him - small, pregnant, pink, half-aborted, lantern-headed sow though he looks - a "jughead." Rocky could dish it out, but he couldn't take it; not even the slightest ribbing; anyhow, not right off the bat he couldn't, it took him a few times around the block to avert the inevitable ribbing by bringing up the subject himself. Rocky had his sensitivities, and he had to steel himself to numb them, as who doesn’t. - The crucible of “Rocky’s” identity had been hate and pain, thus his identity was forged, and since he was so proud of his pain, there it resided inside him, immovable as Plymouth Rock. Flannery O'Connor would have loved him. When Rocky’s rare flights of good humor went the way of the will-o'-the-wisp, his pain threshold being so easily pierced, Rocky became a pain to anyone in his proximity, and it took months of close acquaintance to become aware that Rocky, so far at least, had always pulled out of those crucifixions on his cross of hate. And, also, that he would take immediate advantage of these rekindlings to regain what favors he might have, meanwhile, squandered. The reservoirs of Rocky’s strength wore out more quickly than did other folk's, his lousy circulation dimmed the tip of his nose, of his elbows and of his fingers and probably of all his other extremities, in the direction of the snouts of the only thing, aside some hefty cash at week's end, that might make Rocky beam - that is, in the direction of the snouts of his beloved dogs, Buddy, a Shelty, and Begera, a Beagle-sized light-brown brown-nosed Lab. - Rocky’s Husky-violettish nose-tip became the object of fascination of my observing eye. This tip was like a barometer: the darker Rocky’s snout, the darker and more aboriginally jackelish Rocky’s mood. Rocky was born in pain and Rocky had to shoot himself with a couple of 222s a couple of times a day in his club foot and several other spots not to feel too excruciating; that is, he did not carry an interestingly calibered rifle but was an Ibuprofen addict, Ibuprofen laced with codeine; and it took a dummy like me a while to catch on to the fact that Rocky, being so disadvantaged, had yet managed to finagle and beg no end of ways to get his way, and that his adopting parents had, if inadvertently, "spoiled" him [not that everyone shouldn't be all the time!]; that Rocky traded his disability and the near constant pain he claimed for his feet and joints for all their arthritic and goutish worth in sympathy, indulgence, forgiveness and helpfulness, and that the more you helped Rocky the more he hated you because he hated himself most of all because needing to ask for help or being helped kept reminding him of how needful he was. Rocky used, moaned, whimpered his disability for every small advantage that it might provide him or that he might gain by his own intelligent and ungiving doing. Rocky was a case of “hospitalism” if ever there was one – thank you Dr. Leo Spitz for so apprising me. There he, a ferociously good telephone salesmen, stood again by your desk begging like Begera for some good bones you might throw his way, there you had to deposit the requisite coins in the coke machine for Rocky’s favorite Orange Crush, open his various doll's house sized lunch jars and unwrap his cookies for him, and if you didn't he became a threatening and ornery s.o.b., knowing full well that no one but his knowing wife Donna might hit a paraplegic who then claimed that he had allowed her to hit him! – The fact that he had a wife at all! - Once when Hector, at The City of Troy, was dicking him, and in this instance it really meant sticking his permanent hard-on in his punk shorts against Rocky’s body, the victim asked Hector to "step outside" - which offer flummoxed this boxer, who looked like a white Jackie Robinson, into a state of utter bafflement. – Donna, Rocky’s wife, cracked a milk bottle over “Rocky’s” head every few months.
Rocky was Cain +Able's galleon figure, its mascot; and shortly after Rocky left this good ship to telemarket The City of Hector's Nile Shriner deal there would be no more Cain+Able, in part because, in good part because of Rocky’s ugly doings on the telephone. Rocky could get too threatening, to smash in someone’s car window, whose car window then happened to be smashed in by some hoodlums; and too insulting: sometimes folks whom he had just "sold" overheard him cussing them for being cheap. Rocky sold few folk twice, one reason - a second was Bill's getting all the good "taps," - why Rocky kept pouring over the new business listings in the Journal of Commerce and would spend his business men's lunch hours calling information for their number. If only for the reason that at Hector's Police Guild deal Rocky and I found ourselves for some weeks working out of the same room [as well as we did subsequently at "Able Company Services," as which one half of Cain+Able was reborn after the A.G. had shut it down, in good part because of Rocky’s doings] I came to know Rocky better than any other of the Cain+Able "pros:" talk about a paraplegic foundling who had found a way to assert himself; in Junior High by smashing a stool against the face of some brat who wouldn't stop taking out his cowardliness out on an apparently defenseless runt, Rocky sent that coward to the hospital for a week of stitches and a life-time of guffaws, or so he claimed, the truth in Rocky’s mouth, as it pertained to himself, had a way of becoming as distorted as his limbs. Some of the Cain+Able owners' joker friends continued to abuse-tease him, say Joey, a Cuban-American, who had learned Bronx jokes and talking Bronx in the Bronx and never lost its farty sense of humor in pulling garbage bags over Rocky’s head, the coward's victimizing knows no end. Though once you get to know Rocky you could imagine a wealth of reasons for wanting to do serious damage to him, and once you met old co-workers of his you learned of many who had had the same impulse to string him up or smash a stool over his head, still I was astounded to hear [and during Cain+Able's K.C.P.U. anti-domestic violence campaign] that Rocky’s wife, big Donna, who stood about 6 feet tall, had banged his lantern with a milk jug, allegedly for buying 2 per cent instead of one percent milk, and Rocky looked pathetic and sad when Donna had beaten him up, the moment he entered the door that morning he had that off look, you could tell something had happened, for day's on end Rocky was in shock. Rocky, with his love of his "children" Buddy and Begera, in relationship to which you could not even kiddingly accuse him of bestiality without incurring his serious wrath, would certainly have been happier off tending a kennel than telemarketing. And Donna, until one day I had dinner with her and “Rocky,” indeed sounded as hateful as her beating up a paraplegic makes her sound, and as she often did resound on Rocky’s telephone speaker. Yet with all these of Rocky’s characteristics, you needed to pay proper respect to the fortitude with which Rocky had addressed the life that fate had bestowed on him, and to the intelligence, gnattish-lensed though it was, with which he addressed the problem of surviving - and in the tough world of telemarketing "badge deals" at that, as well as appreciate those rare moments when Rocky was in fine-king-of-the-hill fettle, as he was when - his specialty - he had had a good week fleecing "fish heads" as he called his Asian American victims, his most hated ethnic minority, and Mexicans as he called all Hispanics, using, when all else failed to obtain a "sale," the threat of "immigration" and withdrawal of the "green card." At those rare times when Rocky was sputtering happy guffaws, he made for a one of kind of unrestrained theatrical experience and his performance shamed any hiccup that W. C. Fields or Fellini had elicited in me, if only these performances had had the happy hilarity and absurdity of the Marx Brothers. But it wasn't just for the reason that Rocky, that hate-filled counter-phobic coward, took advantage of the disadvantaged, and that he was filled with near-boundless hatred of what he considered different, that he came to signify to me the naive emblematic heart of lower class white America [surprisingly, unlike Rich Seahag, who was improbably so, Rocky was not a Reagan democrat] yet subscribed to three of the single most boring underpinnings of American ideology, ideology as lie, ideology as patent absurdity upon the slightest realistic reflection:  never to give a sucker an even break,  that you could make it on your own,  that there are a million losers born each and every day [nearly as many, of course, dying too], and that  life was a winner take all proposition; and he believed these fictions despite the fact that he in each and every contemplated respect was living proof of their fallacy. Following this grotesque line of convenient mental maneuvering, Rocky indeed gave no one a single break, I tested him once and it took a week for him to split a deal of mine he had walked in on, but he only did it because I had used the threat of no further help. Using my cut of a ten-ticket sale to "The Black Pearl" to buy 20 dollars worth of splendid food from that splendid Chinese Restaurant for the City of Hector's night crew, if niggardly Rocky wouldn't give up a few spoonfuls to make up a plate for a latecomer. - And by no means was Rocky a depression era dwarf. Since Rocky had worked as a day man in telemarketing for close to a quarter of a century, since for those many years he had kept the company of crooks and thieves and folks who took the slightest edge you gave them and tried to grab another edge, he had become such a one himself; and it took some great digging in the fallow fields of goodness to find a residual ounce of human kindness in a soul which was as malformed as the body that housed it. Let it not be said, that though Rocky read only one book and that it took him a year to do so, that Rocky was dumb, even though he claimed after reading this piece that he “did not understand it.” Rocky specialty at telemarketing was to write "picks" from Mom and Pop type operations, at City of Hector Rocky averaged $ 500.00 a day in sales, all of them “picks,” ranging from $ 48.00 to $ 160.00 - that is, half a book plus that one $ 8.00 ticket "for traffic reasons," a book of ten $ 8.00 tickets, and the occasional book of twenty tickets. Of course those tickets didn't come in "books", that was a telephone convention, just another telephone sales trick, like the "traffic reasons" the traffic reason being that nothing under $ 48.00 was “picked” by the daily driver. Rocky, being who he was, it of course shouldn't have come as much of a surprise, as it did to me, that he was an ultimate pro in some respects. What choice had he had? Come Friday, or whenever it was essential to cash in one of those hard-earned telephone commitments, Rocky would go pick them himself [Donna too would send him picking, errands for her - he did so, he said, because he knew what was best for him, Rocky resided in the safety of his knowledge that no one but Donna might hit a cripple! who after a few weeks would come up with the face saving excuse that he had let her!] especially his own, and the agility with which his creaky-elbowed claws manipulated the wheel of his personnel carrier also came as a surprise, and that he tailgated like a fiend, even during the downpour that Saturday we took I-5 down to Milton to the Puyallup Indian reservation cigarette stores to save 25 per cent per pack. Rocky was penny-wise and -ante to the point of self-endangerment and an accountant's nightmare.
Rocky was also a creature of tightly set routines. He was on time, at 9 a.m. his first task, like the best drug dealer or stock broker in town, he confirmed the hard-phoned "picks" for the driver: "You remember, one of our volunteers is going to stop by today... if you happen to step out, could you leave the check under the mat [or with a neighboring store]." And, oddly, didn't mind the time spent confirming everyone else’s picks, too. Rocky had learned the hard way the evanescence of badge-deal commitments. “Rocky,” thus, would have made a great dispatcher. Setting the "picks" was “Rocky’s” bread and butter. He was the ultimate pro at it. Money in the bank: ought he have lived off disability? Which only allowed him some measly extra income per month at that time, and a wife with a K-Mart's hairdresser's salary? Ought he have done that? What with not just a big but ugly head with a sharp mind inside bereft though he was as to what to do about the consequences from attacks of the ague? Rocky had learned to work his Zippo lighter out of his pants pocket and light himself one of the chain of Marlboro's that enchained his lungs. One elbow leaning on the hood of a car, supporting the tragic cast iron lantern, the other hand smoking, is the ultimate snapshot memory of Rocky. Rocky must be a known quantity to the businessmen and women, especially to Asian Americans and Hispanics, in King County, State of Washington, population 1,500,000, as a scourge. Rocky was a pit bull to them, yet sensing a certain kind of elastic resistance might give an inch at a time: "If you can't do a book of ten [tickets that is at 8 bucks a pop], just this morning I had to cut one of them in half, perhaps you can do half a book," or "I'll find someone else to do half a book," saying which had been preceded by his not altogether meretricious spiel regarding traffic reasons that allegedly made difficult the cutting of books into smaller denominations, not completely meretricious I say because there was a $ 48.00 cut-off for "picks," at least until the end of a drive, when a second driver might come aboard to pick-roust just about any dead-beat. - From this "cutting of books" I, who specialized in residential sales and in selling the family ticket that admitted six for 35 dollars, my ears exposed to someone who insisted on paying 20 dollars evolved the grisly line “of hating the sound when I had to cut the third child in half!” Rocky didn't allow the caller an edge in - that was "the secret" I concluded, noting that beating a victim down with an uninterrupted and uninterruptible pitch was the one common denominator of truly successful badge deal phone men. Rocky didn't let him or her to get off the line ["The word ‘no’ is not part of this conversation."] or try to palm his call off onto another day or the afternoon or onto the bookkeeper or, worst of all, to someone in "human resources" - human resources is a voice mail grave site if ever there was one! It is the black hole of your voice, no echo, no call back, no never. Making a call Rocky became "just an old guy who was doing about as well as you'd expect an old guy to do." That "old guy" was his response to the rejoinder "and you?" that had greeted his initial "how are you doing today?" "Oh, about as well as you'd expect an old guy...." As a youngster Rocky had been in young Ronald Reagan's line of work, Rocky had recreated baseball games, from box scores, not from the ticker tape. And that's what you heard in the imperturbable and invariable patter of his pitch. Rocky could have been a great sports caster, he was that good, his pitch was constant, consistent and exciting and on pitch, Rocky never missed a beat, and when all this failed ["I'm done" was the calculated, abrupt end of his uninterruptible pitch] to produce a sale, Rocky not once failed to pronounce a requisite curse or to emit an obscenity for every T.D., that is 'turn down' not a touch down you idiot! But the most telling detail about Rocky comes from one of his former and again current Able Services boss, Bob A. Bob once saw Rocky work his club feet in such a way as to untie the laces on his club boots whereupon he went to ask Bob if he'd tie his undone shoelaces up for him. No wonder that Rocky occasionally looked so pleased, that you could also catch the secret tyrant beaming; and when we were both back at the old phone grounds, that now bore the insidious name "Able Company Support Services," if Rocky didn't try his shoe-lace trick on Bob Able in my very presence - albeit with a new pair of club boots "whose laces didn't tie properly." He noticed Bob A. and me exchange a knowing glance, and only if he ever reads this [which he has, claiming not to understand a word!] will he [therefore he does] know what all that knowingness was about. Rocky Screw, once but never again secret tyrant! Rocky was a primadonna, had become so willy-nilly due to his physical misfortunes, had had so much attention paid to him at an early age, a case of “hospitalism” if ever there was one.
But “Rocky,” evidently, is intelligent and sufficiently realistic not to be bound by his hatreds at each and every moment. With the buttered side of his bread looking again more enticing at a place of work that he recently tried to turn into the police - say, his hatred of Hector Emerson's circus deal - Rocky is quite willing to return to "the difficult circumstances" there if the money is right. If Hector, in one of his petty, sadistic, dickish ways, docked Rocky fifty cents an hour if Rocky [who stupidly so as to show a teensy bit of earned income on his S.I.S. forms] had missed one of those hours that he was meant to work “on the clock” during the night shift when with his talent he could have easily made another $ 100 for himself instead of being paid $ 10.00 an hour, Rocky would be in a blue-bottle-nosed funk for at least a week. That “Rocky’s” only loyalty is to his dogs was proved when "Buddy" endured a broken hip from an unguarded encounter with a car and Rocky actually was able to overcome his love of money and ask the Cain+Able owners for an $ 1000 advance to pay for the cure.
Even before returning to Cain+Able Rocky had talked to Bob Able, and as part of cutting himself a deal in a potentially resuscitated day room, had indicated that there were only two people he didn't get along with, Sabrina and me. Able wanted a good "writer" like Rocky back, and Rocky, feeling needed, exerted, took full advantage of his now genuine primadonna status, skylights in Seattle might be nice in winter, a large one in summer produces a hot-house underneath, Rocky wanted the fan I had organized all to himself. And so by the time Rocky actually showed back up at the metamorphosed Cain+Able, which was new only in name and in a cleaner smaller office [by which time the fabled Tom Stumpteeth of the razor mustache and two rows of smashed black nicotine-tarred teeth had been sprung from Rikers Island in N.Y. to get the day room "rocking" again] Rocky and I, Rocky who had asked me to do so much for him, for whom I had done so much, and I had not ended up on good terms during the waning days at City of Hector, chiefly I think because I had threatened to take him off the clock if he didn't "write some numbs" if I got a night room running there, no more easy rides for someone who could do so much better on his own. Rocky it turned out didn't understand a joke as long as it involved him; or his orneriness derived from my having shared with him too many of my observations of his modus operandi, of his being, knowing his every whimpering trick, his false way of making up, his politicking, that if he hated anyone he hated himself most of all, and hated being in a position sometimes of really needing help.
Spending some months in the same room with “Rocky,” the Reverend, too, confessed that many a time he had felt like wrapping a telephone cord around that thick ugly neck of someone who had kept a 13 knot rope in his desk at I.M.S. The first few days back at Able Services were like pure hate between us, by the second week there was a kind of second honey moon, the odd couple got along all over again. Rocky even asked me to go picking with him! However, one ride with Rocky, interesting and redeeming as it had been in many ways, was of the kind to last a lifetime. Ours proved a brief Indian summer, and I found a way of moving to another part of the office to write my chapter on the Veteran’s deal.
Upon “Rocky’s” return from vacance to Yellowstone Park - the whole office fantasized what it might be like for his two male companions to spend ten nites in the same tent with Rocky! yet without Buddy and Begera - there was another brief reprise. About the only episode worth recounting from those few weeks back together in close proximity is of the moment that Rocky was musing whether he oughtn't to bring Hector up on a charge for "sexual harassment" for dicking him as Hector had in such a literal fashion. My response to this odd idea of Rocky’s was to state that such an accusation might certainly make for an "unusual" photo in The Stranger. Narcissistic wounds indeed seem to be the deepest, of the many living illustrations of which Rocky was an embodiment, also of Freud's profound observation that, first of all, “the ego is a body.” Rocky, it turned out, was also bit of a ward house politician, he approached Don Cain, the person he hated most, with the line: "We never had a heart to heart talk." As livid, as incensed at Hector as I had been after I had left, Rocky had been equally livid with Don Cain, the man who had repeatedly stopped him from "picking," his own sales come Friday afternoon; and who wasn't even his boss now - but might be again somewhere down a fundraising for Que Sera? There was a totally abject Rocky giving Don Cain the goods on Hector Emerson where Rocky had made better money than ever before in his life, albeit under difficult circumstances. - It had been funny, that fall, to have Rocky come to you to make sure no one knew that he would be leaving Cain+Able: why or whom would I tell? One reason that Rocky was leaving was because primadonna Sabrina had taken it upon herself to file “Rocky's” daytime commission income with the I.R.S.: that meant the death-knell for “Rocky’s” disability payments, Sabrina might win a few brownie points with the I.R.S., but her precipitous action cost the firm at least a thousand dollars a week, because “Rocky,” on the average, “wrote” between $ 1,250 and $ 2 K a week, of which he kept 25 %. Rocky” wasn't to be obligated or anything by gratitude - that word was not part of his mental and emotional repertoire, except to the extent that he knew how to avoid acting under its suasion: if Rocky had ever heard of gratitude it applied solely to his savior step parents whose graves he drove to visit on Memorial Day in Yakima, over-announcing that bit of news from the Screw home front until you became seriously uninterested in it. Yet if you failed to ask about the outcome of this or that trip or one of his fishing expeditions - Hector, for Rocky’s club-footed waddle, called Rocky “Penguin” and, thus, I claimed that Rocky went on fishing vacations to Baffin Island! As he did for real to Yellowstone, with some male buddies: imagine spending a week in a tent with Rocky! – yet, your failing to inquire where Rocky had been on Memorial day was as though the "great man" hadn't been paid proper respect: there resided a vain tyrant in that dwarf who, of course, was also one of the ultimate voyeurs [as what else had he been most of his life!], and an ultimate snoop and gossip. If you wanted to broadcast a secret, especially one pertaining to the gossipy world of Telemarketing, all it took was confide it to Rocky who knew how to boast and give good phone to those whom he was schmoozing up. Fridays, the slow days in telemarketing, was “Rocky’s” gossip day, he called day-men he knew around the county just as a clubhouse politician would.
CODA The morning of the trip to Milton was not a day of great poetry; where were we going to have breakfast? At the Varsity Inn? Donna had gone to work by the seven A.M. of my arrival, we went to “Rocky’s” breakfast shop on Aurora. Rocky had two breakfast shops, one was downtown, the other was on Aurora, the Varsity Inn on 65th would have been our compromise, but I was interested in places that he might hang out in.
Rocky was a fellow of set habits. At the Aurora shop you could indeed get a good steak and eggs and the owners allowed Begera inside to chew the bones and be fed some roast beef strips; Bob Anderson, the Circus Drifter from City of Hector, showed up, it was a hangout for telemarketers who lived in the motels there; during the drive, it was my first and only one with Rocky, I found out that, as compared to his utterly and proudly bourgeois, meticulous living arrangements, on the highway Rocky was a fiend, even during a rain storm; what did he save by driving 70 miles to buy two cartons of cigarettes? Some dollars in cash that then had to pay for the deprecation of the car and the gas; he did it to get out, to go for a drive, he said; and I have no reason to doubt it. I can't say I minded the drive, though I could have done without the extra risk that Rocky’s driving introduced into the proceedings; after all, I found a surrogate for the American Spirits I was smoking then, the surrogate was Gunsmoke, like American Spirit it's tobacco claimed not to have been fucked with by the chemical companies, fucking nature had been left to its own devices. Gunsmoke came at half the cost of American Spirit, of which the two Indian reservation owned stores in Minton were sold out of except for one pack of American Spirit menthol! Not only was Gunsmoke pretty much the same kind of natural poison, it's cover, as compared to the thunderbird on American Spirit, was "The Blonde" - a Stetson hat, that hair streaming on the diagonal around her neck and left shoulder as she blue-eyed you just underneath the rim of the Stetson, her mouth with a knowing dominatrix's wry twist, a black whip in her left hand which reached out right across her western scout's shirt front, her right hand clasping her left waist, a narrow belt, a big belt buckle and the legend "The Woman" was printed on the underside of the pack. My one other visit to “Rocky’s” condo was when I got myself invited to an excellent meatloaf to fiddle with Donna's computer, she had put some monster software sewing program on the hard drive, it was that program's fault not the computer, and all I got to repair was his answering machine. That was my second encounter with Donna, the first time I set eyes on her was the time she had shown up at Cain+Able, and she looked 6 feet tall and like a lanky lady bouncer at the Wild Rose; she turned out to be able to look far more attractive, the dinner was fine, particularly I liked “Rocky’s” mother in law, who reminded me of my own 89 year old cousin, Margaret; perhaps genetic engineering could arrange it for babies to be born well-aged; but after dinner, when Rocky, who had had a hard day, wanted to stretch his pained body out on the couch he was not allowed to do so, like one of his dogs he had to lie down on the floor, he grumped and groaned and bitched, but did as he was told. Keeping in touch with the Bogbeast over the years, and running into the odd Cain+Able graduate, I heard a few years later that Donna had left Rocky for “another man”! Moreover, she was claiming instances of assault on Rocky’s part. Since Donna had the house, Rocky was prepared to go to Idaho for a while to beat the bushes there… But then Donna returned, there was no divorce, but Donna had liberated her arrangements.
“Rocky,” initially, had been a certain fun - at that time I only knew Rocky outside his little office, that is at meetings in the great vastness of the first Cain+Able office or gassing with him while we went downstairs to have a smoke; at The City of Hector, working with him in the same room for a few weeks I had become clued in to the degree of his professionalism and his monstrousness; and when there was no more City of Hector and Rocky returned to what was now Able Company Support Services.