Chapter 2

It is incredible what a difference has occurred in Sal’s behavior the last few months. The feeling of being energized and looking forward to the activities and positive benefits of Fox Hill
Ever since Michael had arrived Sal felt more connected to Fox Hill and life in general.The pattern of eating meals in his room had vanished and he and Michael spent a good part of everyday together. This morning they had breakfast in the main dining room being extremely careful not to occupy any of the seats that had been assigned by God to certain territorial residents. After breakfast they moseyed down to the mail center and then took up residence in the pool room. Sal shuffled through the usual countless requests for funds and the Holiday greetings from everyone that ever had his name in file for a purchase. Michel on the other hand seemed absorbed in a letter and his smile turned into a belly laugh.
Pushing aside his boring pile of correspondence Sal asked “What the hell is so funny?”

: “It’s this letter from Tommy Fallon”
“The maniac? Is he in prison or has he been granted asylum by Putin?”
“Yeah and he’s as nutty as ever listen to this.Only the maniac would write in this vein

Dear Mike, you old fart,
You are the forerunner of legions of old people that eventually will be prisoners like you in Fox Hill. You must lead a good example by living the tenets of behavior that you learned in Jersey City. Because of your advanced age, and limited mental capability you may have forgotten the tenets so I have enclosed them.

Never shit a shitter.

If you have hair growing out of every orifice, shave your ass and walk backwards.

Never date anyone that looks like 10 pounds of shit in a five pound bag.

Never pass a bathroom.

Never waste an erection.

Never presume it is just a fart.

Never eat breakfast with someone that is uglier than a bag of assholes.

If you live by these tenets your waning days will be golden instead of yellow or brown.

I will visit you as soon as I remember who the hell you are.

Love and kisses,

Tommy “Maniac”.
Sal took the letter from Mike and laughed out loud

Boy does that bring back memories of the gang on the corner “He was the craziest bastard in the whole neighborhood.”

Both men are now fully engaged in laughter and Mike is having trouble speaking. Finally he gains control. “You don’t know the half of it. Let me refresh your memory about some of his legendary feats.

One Saint Patty’s day he smuggled a woodsman’s saw into a suite at the Biltmore hotel. To the cheers of many drunks he sawed the piano in half.

The following St.Patty’s day he was arrested for running naked through the Lincoln Tunnel

Slapping his knee he wipes the tears from his eyes, Just hearing about him really gets my juices going.”

Pensive for a moment Mike places the letter on the table. “Like you I really miss those days. There was such togetherness with all the guys on the corner. I would not have known enough to call it community then, but that’s what it was. I always felt like I belonged to something special It was like that sitcom Cheers a place where everybody knew your name,”
Sharing common feelings Sal has been touched by Mikes words. “Yeah every guy was a part of my family. I don’t think I ever had it to that degree with the exception of my personal family. My suburban life consisted of being nice to a group of strangers. Shit I spent more time talking about my lawn then anything else.”

That’s true Sal “I was blessed with countless friends along the way, but with the exception of Vietnam I never felt as rooted as I did on the corner.”

“It’s amazing since you came here it has unleashed a ton of memories and stories about those days. I’ve had names pop into my head that I haven’t seen in over 50 years.
Turtle, Chinkie, Beaky ,Octopus, Dinty and Lodi. Of all of them I most remember Lodi. He constantly walked as if he had a load in his pants.”

“Yeah a lot of our characters had politically incorrect names but they fit like a glove. Especially Dinty. We thought of him as one of us even though he was mentally challenged. He was a living example of how the neighborhood took care of its’ own.”

The memories were exploding and it was as though the Maniacs letter had triggered an immediate connection to their past, “My favorite Dinty story took place one year at Midnight Mass. In the middle of the service which of course was in Latin, Dinty stood up and shouted” Speak English you sneaky bastard.” Everyone laughed even Fr. Reynolds and those around Dinty politely asked him not to do it again.”

“We all watched out for him and when his father died Bert Burke and I offered to be pallbearers. After his Father was buried he lived in the same house, he never actually worked but people brought him food everyday. He died 10 years ago but never spent a day in an institution.”

Looking at his wrinkled hands Sal shakes his head “God there has been so much time that has passed since the Dinty days.

“Hard to believe that the Dinty days were so many years ago.”

The banter had become slower and more thoughtful as each man reflected on the value of those days and perhaps for the first time a yearning to be rooted again. “We were together 24/ 7 and then all of a sudden we were all scattered.”

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