"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Nicky Nork Meets the New Age

The fact that a goomba like Larry Lugno got interested in Scientology was a testament to the Sixties. While everybody else from Down Neck did their Easter Duty at St. Mary’s and an occasional Stations of the Cross, Larry was getting wired to Sensitivity Meters in the City trying to get ‘clear’. If a hot-combed Nicky Nork felt the call to explore inner worlds, the Movement had reached deep down into the social sub-strata – very deep indeed.

The other Scientology novitiates wanted nothing to do with him, however. Just having some low-life around ruined the counter-culture ambience. Those pointy shoes, that silk shirt, the jewelry all reeked of guinea-land. Larry’s braggadocio, posturing, and bella figura cut no ice here. “Fuck ‘em”, he said, and went back to Mantoloking with Uncle Erroll.

Everybody just hung around Erroll’s place. “Hey, wanna go to the track today, Lar?”, asked Petey Brogna.

“Nah. Let’s drive down to Philly and get blown”, said Andy.

“Fuck that shit. I wanna go bowling”, said Joey DiLoreto.

Bowling? You wanna stick your finger in some hole, get some pussy.”

“You guys are fucking sick. Let’s take the boat out”, said Larry.

“And do what? Float around for t’ree hours and puke?”

“No. Fish. We’ll get the polack from Neptune to drive the boat. He’ll take care of everything”.

The boat trip would have been routine – Stash Kryzewski and Larry fishing for blues off of Barnegat Light while Harry, Andy, and Petey Brogna did Yellow Jackets and goofed on the seagulls – if Stash had not invited Delia Bourne along for the ride. Delia was a friend of Stash’s daughter who had invited her down to the Shore for a week. Delia was a blue-eyed blonde from the Midwest, and like a million Sicilians before him, Larry was a sucker for white pussy. She was a religious wacko, and kept talking to him about his inner self. “I can tell you’re a seeker”, she said. “I can feel your divine spirit trying to come out”.

He lapped it all up. Jesus this, Jesus that. Moses, Mohammed, Gandhi, angels, archangels – the whole religious pantheon was emptied and Larry couldn’t believe his good luck. Fuck the religious part. This was pure, golden, blue-eyed pussy. Every goomba’s dream. As the ship rolled with the swells and Delia leaned into him, and he could smell her hair and the fresh soapy scent of her body, all he could think of was her naked body, soft and smooth. Enough guinea poontang with wiry nipple hairs. Delia would have milky-white tits and a fluffy blonde bush like baby hair.

Delia saw the gold cross that Larry was wearing and gently lifted it from his neck. “You have the spirit of The Christ with you at all times”, she said. “With Jesus, Allah Akbar, the incarnation of the Angel Gabriel, you can be saved”; but Larry could only think of her soft touch, how he never realized what a chick turn-on his his jewelry was, and how much he wanted to fuck her in the cabin below.

Delia was so much in her own world, however, she never even noticed how Larry leaned his hard-on into her as the boat pitched and rolled. She ignored his references to how Uncle Erroll had decorated the cabins below decks (“You know the Palumbo Convertible store on Times Square…?”). She only gazed out over the sea to Barnegat Lighthouse receding far in the distance. “The power of the sea”, she said. “God is with us”.
Harry, Andy, and Petey Brogna had gone through all the Yellow Jackets and now were were doing uppers. As the Red Devils kicked in they began to fidget, then got wired. “What the fuck, man. Where’re the fish? Where’re the fuckin’ fish? I thought we was here to catch fish and there’s nothin’ in this boat but guts. Whad’d youse do? Nothing but entrails man, livers and tripe and fuckin’ eyeballs. What, you rip the guts out of ‘em, then t’row ‘em back alive you twisted polack fuck?”

Delia meanwhile was standing on the prow of the boat chanting “Om, Shanti Om” with Larry hanging onto the guywires trying not to get tossed overboard. The polack was now hauling in fish faster than he could gut them and there were flopping, gasping blues all over the deck. Harry and Andy were now so wired they were chasing each other from aft to stern, throwing fish at each other. Petey Brogna blew the foghorn and Harry started to climb over the side when the polack went crazy, swung the boat in a tight circle, nearly tossing Larry and Harry overboard, and pulled a gun out of the tackle box.

“You miserable guinea fucks stop this shit or I’m going to shoot your fuckin’ ass”.

“Hey…….Hey. Hold it, hold it”, Larry said to Stash. “Calm down. Don’t pay no attention to them. I’ll take care of it”. Petey Brogna was pissing over the side and Harry was trying to hook Andy with the fly rod. Only Delia was oblivious to it all, laughing into the wind and yelling: “O, Lord, Light of Lights, Buddha, The Enlightened One, walk with Jesus and Mary. Om, Shanti Om”. It was a fucking zoo.

After everybody had calmed down and Stash had turned the boat back to shore, Larry kept apologizing to Delia. “Don’t pay attention to these clowns”, he said. “They don’t know what you and I know”, and Delia took his hand and kissed it, smiled at him with those blue eyes, and Larry went completely stupid.

Delia was a member of The Church Resplendent and Glorious, a California cult which abruptly moved to Idaho after its leader, Claire Booth Seeker, had had a vision of the entire West Coast destroyed in a catastrophic natural disaster. Once established in Perfect Valley, Seeker had had another vision – that of a nuclear Armageddon. So fearful was she that such a holocaust would soon occur, she ordered her faithful to build a network of underground bomb shelters beneath the valley floor. After the radiation had subsided, Church followers would emerge reborn into a new age to repopulate the earth.

This was no more crackpot than any of the other millenarian, doomsday, or survival cults living in Idaho and Montana, just better organized. It appealed to Delia because of its eclectic, universalist notion of spirituality. Jesus, Mohammed, Gautama Buddha, all the Angels and Archangels, Siva, Rama, Moses were all but reincarnations of each other in an endless cycle of holy rebirth and regeneration. It appealed to Larry because it was like the Mafia and the Roman Empire. It had a capo de tutti capi, a code of honor, silence, and secrecy. It had discipline and organization and the will to enforce both. Larry could give a fuck about the mumbo-jumbo. The Scientologists had shown him what that was all about. What he saw in the Church was opportunity.

Larry had to wait, however. First had to come stopovers at the New Light Mission and a community of Turkish dervishes, all part of Delia’s evangelical mission to promote the Church. Although she could have chosen an easier path – like the Mormons or the Seventh Day Adventists who simply went door to door in respectable middle class communities – Delia chose to go to Indian Country, and she invited Larry to go with her.

The acolytes at the New Light Mission were no happier to see Larry than the Scientologists. Those pointy shoes, the silk shirt, the jewelry, the Buick LeSabre smelling of aftershave and cigarettes, the Frank Sinatra music. They thought he was some kind of bodyguard or driver; and what was she doing with a guy like that? He ate his meals in silence, sat by her side as she chanted the Church’s invocations in the middle of an alfalfa field, hoping to attract Mission defectors.

He still hadn’t fucked her, and they were already three days into ashram bullshit. The dervishes were more interesting, anyway. A lot of spinning by some faggot ice-skater and more wacko religious shit from an Arab who wailed every couple of hours from the top of a tree. As soon as the ice-skater started his twirling, the Arab came down from his perch and started banging on a tin drum, and the dervishes joined hands in a circle. Every few minutes the faggot would extend his hand and a learner-dervish would join him in the center of the circle. This went on for at least a half an hour until half the kids were puking in the bushes. The twirler and the Arab went into the woods to smoke dope, while everyone else went up to the cowfield to listen to more wailing.

The only reason why Larry put up with any of this horseshit was Delia. If anything, he was even more mesmerized by her. He thought she looked like the Rolling Rock Indian maiden, always dressed in white and flowing gowns with flowers woven into her hair. When she touched his cheek or took his hand and said “Allah akhbar”, they were words of love. He still hadn’t gotten any, but was so in love that he didn’t even jerk off.

Finally they left for Idaho and The Church Resplendent and Glorious. The Church’s above-ground campus and buildings were modest: Western hitching-post architecture mixed in with some aluminum pre-fabs; but below ground was where the Church’s obvious wealth had been invested. A vast system of tunnels and fortified rooms extended in all directions deep below the valley floor. Hundreds of people moved quickly among them – warehouses, institutional kitchens, classrooms, boiler and generator rooms.

Larry and Delia were in Perfect Valley for more than a week before she could arrange a meeting with Claire Booth Seeker, the head of the Church – an obligatory meeting, for Seeker wanted to personally meet any newcomer to the community, but Larry was looking forward to it. He was impressed by what he saw.
Seeker’s chambers were the only sign of opulence on the austere ‘upper campus’. Although constructed in an old Victorian farmhouse, they were closer to Newark than the rugged West – lots of Venetian sconces, candelabras, gilded moldings, and patterned sofas. The wallpaper had baroque pastoral scenes repeated from floor to ceiling. Claire Booth Seeker sat in a high-backed, throne-like chair, dressed in a long, red crinoline dress. She wore all kinds of jewlery, but all with a religious theme: a gold cross around her neck, rings with an Islamic Crescent, an ornate ivory brooch, carved with the image of Buddha’s Tree of Enlightenment. Around her chair were tall urns, each burning with scented flame. Above her head was a large painting of the Archangel Gabriel.

“Welcome to The Church Resplendent and Glorious”, she said to Larry.

Larry said nothing. He just looked at the high-coiffed, regal Seeker. “Good afternoon”, she said, smiling.

Larry couldn’t believe his ears or his luck. This cunt was a Jersey goomba.

“Pleased to meet you”, said Larry, and although she tried to hide it, there was the same recognition in Seeker’s eyes. She’d been made.

For Delia the Church was the answer to a long and confused search. It had the same close community of believers that Sri Aurobindo or the dervishes had, but with more structure. She needed the guidance and the discipline that Seeker and her “Counselors” provided. The political philosophy of the Church, based on total mistrust of government, private enterprise, and religious faith recalled the simple conservatism of the Midwest and her Iowa family. The eclecticism – the incorporation of all the world’s great religious figures – corresponded to the breadth of her own religious vision.

She accepted the unusual accoutrements of the Church – the garish colors, the boardwalk representations of the saints, the austere dietary restrictions – without question. These were the symbols of her new faith, her communion, and her sustenance. If her own childhood religion was spare and in its own way austere, it had been unremittingly so. The depictions of Christ rising to heaven on the wings of angels – familiar to Larry from all his Sundays at St. Mary’s – were inspirational. The powerful, muscular images of Gabriel and Michael, haloed and glowing with peace and strength were reassuring. She was comforted wearing scapulars, medals, and pendants.

Larry saw only money – kickbacks from the construction of shelters, the underground ventilation, the electrical works, the plumbing. The lower campus was only half-built. With a little bit of imported Jersey muscle, Larry was sure he could squeeze the Church for plenty. Then there was the food supply – tons of packaged flour, grain, rice; canned goods; water; and since he was thinking broadly, why not some protection money? Seeker from Passaic would pay plenty to keep her scam quiet.

It was a match made in heaven, and before long Larry had tripled the Church’s wealth – Claire Booth Seeker’s wealth to be more exact – and pocketed a sweet piece of change himself. Larry had brought in Harry and Andy to lean on the Idaho contractors who were building the shelters, supplying provisions, printing reams of religious tracts, and printing the tacky pink and violet renditions of Jesus Christ, Buddha, and the Orthodox saints that were in everyone’s house. Before long Perfect Valley was Little Italy West. Everybody Down Neck saw some action – Amodio Plumbing Supplies, Di Cecco Electrical, Squillacote Printing. None of the goombas stayed in Idaho – “Fuckin’ moose” – and turned over the day-to-day operations to Larry, who also saw to it that the Livingston city council was kept happy with a trip to Vegas every month.

Claire Booth Seeker’s job was to keep cranking out her weirdo bullshit. The more she laid on the faithful, the more they lapped it up. There seemed to be no limit to what they would swallow. Seeker told them, for example, that the Treasury Department had printed money laced with a trace chemical that gradually and progressively debilitated the minds of anyone who touched it. This money, said Seeker, was issued only through Denver and the Rocky Mountain branch of the Federal Reserve as an insidious but clever plan to neutralize the Free Thinker movements that were growing rapidly in Idaho and Montana. Every Church member should wear latex gloves when handling money, Seeker warned. Two thousand Church members in Perfect Valley times twelve sets of gloves per year times ten bucks a set (specially “treated” on the inside as an antidote to any of the Treasury’s chemicals that might have been touched before the gloves were worn) and Di Loreto Rubber of Kearny, N.J. was saved from bankruptcy.

Not only was Larry now able to pay off his debts to the Ganuccis, he was finally fucking Delia AND Claire Booth Seeker. If that wasn’t enough, Delia liked the fact that he was fucking Mother Divine because she felt that he drew in her spiritual essence with every fuck and then passed it on to her. Claire Booth Seeker didn’t care who Larry fucked as long as he serviced her long, hard, and often – he was part of the Newark package; emotions never entered into it for her or for him. It was business lubricated with a little social oil – the guinea equivalent of a few dry martinis.

After six months the warren of underground shelters had expanded far beneath Perfect Valley. Stocks of canned tuna, soup, franks and beans, hash, and beef stew were loaded into newly-constructed storerooms; tanker-sized containers of water were buried in deep pits, vast reservoirs of gasoline were secured in bunkers. Air filtration systems were built, sewage lines laid, visual and electronic communications systems put in place.

It mattered little to Larry that corners had been cut on virtually all contracts. Half the Campbell’s soup cans were dented, the water was drawn from cow ponds in Beartooth County, the gasoline was bought from Xtra Gas which had already cut it with kerosene. The guts of the air filtration and air conditioning systems were all rewired and refitted with old Czech machinery, but who cared? No one was ever going to use the shelters anyway, and Larry and Claire Booth Seeker had their bags packed and off-shore bank accounts full. Petey Brogna had either paid off or muscled the few Idaho regulatory agencies that might have had an interest in the shelters and had enough dirt on everybody that no way were they going to sing.

Seeker kept her Red Menace and anti-government shit hot so the tithings kept pouring in. She made the shelters into something even more sacred than Christ’s tomb. They were to be the crucible in which the New World’s people would grow strong and more numerous while the surface world cooled after the eventual and inevitable nuclear holocaust………..and they should never be visited until that moment was imminent.
People are never satisfied with a good thing, and after six months Larry began getting bored with boning Miss Seeker every night, then going down on Delia because his dick was too sore to fuck. The blonde bush fantasy had long worn off, and Delia, far from being satisfied by Larry’s muff diving was even more insistent that he fuck her properly. She had gone completely wacko about Claire Booth Seeker’s holiness and was convinced that Larry’s dick was like a uranium rod at a nuclear plant – hot, glowing, throbbing with divine energy as he withdrew it from Seeker’s sacred reactor and thrust it into her own.

The money was good, but Larry was getting tired of The Church Resplendent and Glorious, Claire Booth Seeker, and Idaho. He told Seeker that he was leaving.

“Listen, you miserable guinea fuck”, she said. “You leave when I tell you to leave”.

Larry later admitted that he should have known – or at least seen it coming. Seeker had been paying off the Livingston aldermen even more than Larry and Petey Brogna; she had her own Newark connections she was keeping happy just in case with a cut from Church offshore money; and who else but the Ganuccis who were on the plane to Bozeman to muscle Larry when he wired half his debt from an Aruba account back to Newark. Claire Booth Seeker was scamming Larry on top of the scam they were running on the poor fucks in the Church. She was just waiting for the right time to let him know about it.

He wanted out? He wanted to bone WASP poontang? Go right ahead, she said, but first he had to pay up the hundred grand he had “stolen” from him. If he objected, he had two choices: to be garotted by Panzo Ganucci in his sleep; or to have his balls cut off by the Whittle boys who lived in the Crazies, ate bear meat for eleven months of the year, then came down into the Valley to get drunk and to do the aldermen’s dirty work.
So Larry had no choice. He emptied his Aruba account and went back to Newark and Uncle Erroll. Erroll always felt a responsibility towards Larry – he was such a fuck up – and had hoped that some day he would join the family business.

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