Originally published on October 22, 1997
I found out last night that Bracken, when he called back, nailing Sue at nearly 3AM (uh, is that right?) on the phone after leaving my birthday party for home had called to inform me that he had driven past, and stopped for Reggie a few blocks away from the Dollhouse after we had given up on one of our more street savvy but friendly neighborhood thugs rolling through the DC alleys that night. Reggie had been foiled in a ten dollar weed run for the Brack & me, claiming the ten spot Sue fronted him was lifted from him at knifepoint. Then on top of that predictable swindle, he the Bracken, proceeded to tell Sue that Gabriel was a poor writer, a confusionist, and whatever else he could hurl across the plate in a few screwball pitches of counterpoint in trying to badger Betsy Sue at my expense.
The fact that writing (neither mine nor his) never once surfaced all night is what makes this whole slander so outrageous. Sue told him she didn't want to hear it, and probably wouldn't remember this call in the morning. She did remember but only revealed this part of the conversation to me last night some three plus weeks after the fact. Subversionary bastard, ain't he? As for Reggie, or Dog, as he prefers to be called on the street, what a twit. He'd pumped the well of deception earlier that night when he sat at my patio table, eating on some grilled chicken, staring me in the eye and marvelling that I'd never disrepected him, and yet, like clockwork on the petty criminal circuit he stoops to this minor theft. I haven't heard from him personally yet, and probably never will, which punches a big hole in his cover story, so I chalked it up as the bare minimum of doing business, of practicing the dark arts of survival by gullible but dangerous white folks in the mostly third generation working on welfare neighborhood, tossing Dog a ten dollar bone, no biggie on the "how much do I have to pay to keep from going through all these things twice" scale. Long in the tooth, most would agree, but I was finally waking up from the political fogs of unsustainable stained glass innocence, that deep sleep where trust was a lie, but the preferred lie of do gooders everywhere. The racial con game, the dances with Reggie grift, was as natural as the morning dew on the green, green grass of home. We'd dealt with Reggie before. This ten dollar disappearing act was nothing compared to the theft of the year before, when my Nikon disappeared from this same birthday patio, but I'll leave that tale for another page.
In real time, Sue DID mention that Len Bracken had called late that night. Hell, I was there. I overheard her responses. She just never mentioned his remarks on my writing. I think she thought she was protecting me. More likely, him. Bracken, for the record, is not a confusionist (a label he has pinned upon Greil Marcus, Stewart Home, and Gabriel Thy, so I suppose I should feel the company benefits kicking in any day now), he's merely confused.
Ring. Just got off the phone. Go figure. It was Bracken. He was with his dad he said, looking at Scenewash. Asked me if not a lot was online yet. I stated, yes, indeed that was the case. He was very specific in his questioning. I replied in same. Queer conversation. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but hounds in the hood were barking like adverbs in heat...