“I never lie because I don’t fear anyone. You only lie when you’re afraid.” – John Gotti, former head of the Gambino Family.
He was standing at the end of the bar in a small Public House in my village. The pub was old, cobwebby, all sticky carpet and cheap polished brasses hanging on the walls by a poster advertising that the latest football matches were ‘always shown free.’ It was a dark place with an untrustworthy landlady who tried to stiff the punters by shortchanging larger bills for smaller ones.
‘Hey, I gave you a twenty.’
‘Oh……did you….I’m sorry.’ There was never an argument, she never made out she was right. It was a giveaway act of a small-time mean chiseler, robbing the customers and doing it for peanuts. No risk. The old men loved her. She was tits and arse and rubbed both against the pissy stained trousers of grey-haired men who had never fucked anything for ten years or more. They copped a grope, maybe even a reminder of what a hard-on felt like, she got regular customers who were less likely to challenge her bad maths. There was a trade-off, old as time.
The guy at the end of the bar that day was dressed out of place for the situation and the surroundings. It was midday in the middle of no-where. The others were in the pale drab grey shades of retirement uniforms, or they were in the harrowed greens of farmers, splashed with mud from walking the dog. Some even had their dogs at their feet on rope leads as they perched on the high bar stools and laser-beamed the landlady’s tits. He was different. He was in a sharp metallic grey suit, sunglasses, black polished loafers, gold watch, gold chains. His head was shaved bald. With those glasses you could never tell where he was looking, not in the dark of the bar anyhow.
The others were ignoring him. They were talking about the latest immigration news, getting it all mixed up and lost in their backwoods ignorance and racism. Nobody in the gloom knew about much, except what they learned from each other’s fractured brains. The bar was a school of advanced Adult Learning for the alcoholic, the scared and retired, the dumb, and anyone who wasn’t prepared to intervene when talk turned to ‘fucking send em home.’ I’d nearly had a couple of fights as my answer to those debates – once clearing the bar with a promise to kick the living shit out of the next person who uttered something racist. I was unpopular, which suited me fine.
The suit approached. He came and stood at the bar nearest to where I was sitting at a small table on my own, set back from the others. I was reading the paper and pouring down a pint of cheap lager. He was looking my way – at least I thought he was.
‘Shit,’ I thought, ‘This motherfucker is looking for an opening to come and talk.’ I was right. He walked over.
‘You know who I am?’ he asked.
‘Er, nope.’ I continued reading the paper hoping he’d go away.
‘I’m Gambino,’ he said.
He got out his wallet and drew out a fake driving licence. On it was a picture of him in his shades, and the name (I forget the first name) “Gambino”, place of birth “Sicily”.
‘Er….yeah, I see. What are you trying to say?’
‘I have big connections. BIG connections, if you catch my drift.’ He leaned back away from me and smiled. The guys at the bar had stopped talking and were watching us. One or two were smirking.
‘Oh, really.’ I went back to my paper. ‘Another fucking nut in this nut department,’ I thought. If I ignored him he’d drift away and bother someone else. I stayed silent. He walked backwards towards the bar and started talking loudly to some wizened old ex farmer who was slowly nursing a stout in his own fancy glass.
‘I got arrested the other day again,’ Gambino said. The whole bar was paying attention. ‘They needed five cars of armed police to make me come quietly. They understand who I am.’
Nobody replied. He went on, ‘I was flying my Stealth Microlite over the Rocks and they knew I could cause trouble and that I was probably armed.’ Still no response from the bar. ‘SO….they begged me to just stop causing trouble, basically because I’m a pretty dangerous fucker and they know they can’t cope around here with the likes of me.’
‘Hey, Gambino,’ said a voice from the other side of the bar, ‘Weren’t you in the SAS last week?’
He remained motionless. His smile continued. He reminded me of a shaved testicle with a slit for a mouth, wearing those fucking stupid shades. ‘I can’t talk about that.’
I sat watching, thinking the man had Aspergers, but he seemed pretty normal other than the out of place clothes and the lies he was telling. On and on he went, moving from person to person, whispering secrets, trying his best to purvey an air of mystery and danger. They all listened. He was a millionaire, had land in Canada, boxed bare knuckle, knew politicians, the Mafia, he was a walking screenplay. Stephen Seagal would have lapped up his shit with his tongue. He went on this way for half an hour, then drained his drink and left quietly by the back door.
‘Off to catch the bus,’ said one of the guys. It was true. I left shortly afterwards and saw him standing, posing, at the bus stop, ready to pull an imaginary 9mm from the inside of that shitty suit.
I went in the place a month later. He didn’t show. I asked the guys at the bar where Gambino was.
‘Ha!’ said one, ‘I don’t think we’ll be seeing him for a bit. He was in another pub last week bragging about how he’d been in the SAS, and a guy who had actually served in the SAS was listening. Would you fucking believe it! Eventually he couldn’t take any more of Gambino’s bullshit. He said he’d served for fifteen years in the Special Forces and had never heard of him. He laid him out. One punch. Told him people like him should be put down. I never laughed so hard.’
A few weeks later the local paper carried a story about someone called Nigel who lived in another village not far from mine. He’d threatened his wife after catching her in bed with a local farmer. The police arrested him in the street. They tackled him, cuffed him, and confiscated the small BB gun he owned. He looked happy on the mugshot photo. The shades had gone but he was living the dream.