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Sunday, May 27, 2012
Chapter 1 of my forthcoming novel, Crime Does Pay (tentative title)
I always knew I’d eventually write my autobiography. I just never thought it would be from behind bars. But here I am, an octogenarian, standing in a bocce ball court in the FPC Pen, or Federal Prison Camp Pensacola to the freebirds.
Sure, I know what you are thinking. I must have had a bad childhood. My parents were killed by gangbangers when I was seven and my younger brother OD’d when he was fourteen. Right? Sorry, nothing that dramatic.
I actually had a pretty normal childhood. I was born and raised in Mission Viejo, California. No cracks about normal and California, okay? Back when I was born, 1935, California was normal. We were still 30 years away from groovy, free love, pothead surfer dude crap.
My parents, like half of the parents in the USA, divorced but not until I was twenty-three. I have a brother, Ray, one year younger than me and a sister four years younger than me, Sandy. They're both gone now. Ray had a heart attack about a decade ago and Sandy lost a vicious battle with breast cancer seven years ago. Rest in peace, Ray Ray and Sandy.
As I was saying, I had a pretty normal upbringing. After high school, I did a tour in Vietnam as part of the 75th Ranger Regiment. I saw my share of fighting and took some shrapnel a couple of times, and, while I saw my share of horrible things like buddies getting their legs blown off, at least I was never involved with or even saw some deranged lieutenant order a platoon to use flamethrowers on a village of women and children like they show in the movies sometimes. Hell, do they even call them movies anymore? It’s video now, isn’t it?
Anyway, I guess the point is that I can’t blame war horrors for my fall from grace as it were. I didn’t have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder either. You know why? Because nobody had it back then. That garbage didn’t get invented until we started electing pussies who never served in the military and all of this “politically correct” shit started. No disrespect intended to the good men and women who are put in harm's way every day to protect our country, but it seems to me that PTSD is a lot like that Attention Deficit Disorder thing and Depression. All of these things have been around a long time. You know what they called an ADHD kid when I was kid? Hyper, that's what. Now, the damned greedy drug companies want everyone strung out on drugs for the rest of their lives. Hell, I'm taking five medications myself: A cholesterol med, a blood thinner, and three I'm not even sure about; something to do with my heart. Without the government footing the tab, those damned pills would cost me $1,100 a month. By God, that's about what I paid for my first car!
Anyway, I guess the point is when your kid falls down at the playground, you can do one of two things when Junior starts crying. You can either say, “Oops, Champ, you're fine. Be more careful. Now, go catch up with your friends.” or you can rush to his side and make a big deal about it and have him sit in your lap for ten minutes while he bawls his eyes out.
Now, I'm not saying what General George S. Patton did to that soldier in World War 2, slapping him and all, was right, but if that happened today, Patton would have been booted out of the army and probably be in the cell next to me. If that had happened back then, we might have lost the war.
Speaking of war, I do have a lot of war stories and maybe I’ll get to those stories someday in a different book.
As I was saying, I'm playing a game of bocce ball with my celly, Jim Goldberg, and a couple of other buddies, Kent Enfield and Cal Trent. Being the oldest inmates (in age, not tenure) at FPC Pen, I joined their group fairly quickly after arriving about three weeks ago. I'm still a good fifteen years older than the next oldest, Kent, who starts spouting off a story I've already heard three or four times.
“I'm innocent, I tell you,” Kent says. “That pissant son of a bitch Corey Jones is the one who embezzled the money and set me up.”
“Yeah, right, Kent,” Cal responds.
“Seriously, he stole the money and put some of it in my bank account.”
“Sure, Kent,” I say. “I'm sure this Jones guy is a master hacker.”
“How come they only found $400,000 of the $11 million in my account?”
“Gee, I don't know, Kent,” I counter. “Maybe the jury believed that it made more sense that you were good at stashing money in the Cayman Islands than Jones was a master hacker, eh?”
“Come on, Frank...”
Yeah, that's me. Franklin Delano Gorman. I know, I know. Don't get me started. Being a dyed-in-the-wool Republican and being named after the most socialist president ever (until Uncle Barry, of course) is enough to make my skin crawl. I thought about changing it a few times. Something like Benjamin Franklin Gorman has a nice ring to it and I could still go by Frank. I guess at age 83 it's probably a bit too late for that. Also, I'm sure my mom and pop meant well, God rest their souls. I say, “Come on, Frank, what? Yeah, yeah, you're all innocent. Nobody in this damn place did it. You are all goddamned Eagle Scouts. It's getting a little old. Whaa, whaa, whaa.
“Let me you tell you something, I intentionally committed EIGHT crimes just to get here, you ungrateful, sons of bitches...”
“What???” Jim nearly shouts. “You intentionally landed here...?”
“Sure did,” I say with a proud grin.
“Why the hell would you do that?” Cal asks.
“Well, that's an interesting story. Let me tell you about.”