part ii: the chase scene

PART II was the chase scene. I had been renting a small room downtown on Castle Street for conducting interviews, typing up manuscripts, that sort of thing, and I had gone into the building to pay the rent in cash to the proprietor, who sat before one of those old-fashioned concierge desks with the keys all hanging on the wall, like some kind of San Francisco flophouse, you know what I mean? When I was paying her, she pushed her glasses up her nose and handed me a business card. “Two suits came to inquire after you,” she said. The card had a German name on it, something long, terrifying, and Teutonic like Hauptwerke or Buchmalerei. “They said you owed them money.” “That’s impossible,” I said. “I paid off all of my lenders.” “That’s not what they said,” the proprietor responded. Outside I got in the car with my daughter and began to drive back to the hotel where we were staying. But on the road, I noticed we were being followed by an aggressive driver in a yellow bus. He eventually ran us off the road, or rather up onto two wheels, though the car fell back into place. Neither of us were hurt, but we were both shaken. In the hotel, this sort of luxury Miami resort full of guests who looked like they belonged on Fantasy Island, we rushed through the halls until we got to our suite, which fortunately was full of various members of the family, that is not real family members, but soldiers, enforcers, the kinds of cats who drive up and down Howard Beach in Queens looking for some action on a Friday night. That is not to say they were true mafia, or made men, but rather had seen enough Italian-American cinema to know how to behave properly in circumstances like these. This makeshift army came face to face with the Hauptwerke collection agency mercenaries in the hotel corridor and there was a bloodfest. In the end, the Hauptwerke men agreed to forgive all of my debts and called it just a simple misunderstanding. They even pretended to be on friendly terms with the family enforcers and humored their requests to come back sometime and drink. I felt ashamed though. My daughter was not pleased by the car chase and the mercenaries chasing her father. “We were supposed to go see the pandas in Helsinki,” was all she could say through sobs. “You promised! You promised we would go see the panda bears in Helsinki.” I felt bad that she had the misfortune of having being born into such a mess. Yes, I promised her. There would be no change in plans. I would take her to see the pandas in Helsinki at the zoo just as I had promised.

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