Their mission was to find those dark and dingy “Dive Bars” to meet the neighborhood elders. Those original Brooklynites who held the history of their newly adopted neighborhood. That’s where they found Mickey McDougall. He was a long time neighborhood resident alcoholic and former playwright. The perfect person to spin the tale of “Illegal Frequencies” for the two metrosexual urban homesteaders.
As long as they bought Mickey drinks.
The two trust fund baby twenty-something-year-old CLAPS (Caucasian Liberal Asshole Progressives) love living in Red Hook, Brooklyn. It is their attempt to blend into the original fabric of this neighborhood.
Red Hook was once a tough, dangerous and neglected neighborhood. It became even more neglected when it was isolated and cut off by the building of the Gowanus Expressway in the 1950’s. It was forgotten until the advent of the Brooklyn Millennial Renaissance.
Mickey settled in his usual stool at the bar and began his soliloquy, as if he was dictating notes for a play.
Rizmore Kapottee lived in the same rent controlled apartment he had shared with his parents all his life. His parents both gone, Rizmore survived on their life insurance benefits. The payment in the form of a small monthly annuity.
Charlie Cantonni aka “Pebbles” was Rizmore’s best friend. Best buddies since their days back at the old PS 69. That's where the new million dollar condos are being built two blocks over toward the river. Pebbles earned his nickname because when asked a question, he would shake his head, stop and wait a few seconds. He’d then come up with some outlandishly stupid response. People swore they could hear the pebbles shaking around inside his empty numb skull.
Pebbles and Rizmore had no other friends. Both pushed through the NYC Board of Education system and graduated High School with General Diplomas (attendance awards.)
Seeking employment became a comedy of errors. Usually, they both were hired at the same time for menial jobs. And fired at the same time for incompetence. Eventually, both went on SSI disability for their presentation of a pronounced lower mental acuity.
Pebbles' immigrant parents decided to return to Italy. Pebbles chose to stay in the neighborhood. To supplement his SSI, he received monetary support from his married older brother who lived in New Jersey. He remained in his parents' rent-controlled apartment.
Another week, another new Monday morning. Rizmore brushed his teeth, washed and shaved under his arms. He then applied an inordinate amount of Secret Spray Deodorant. A ritualistic function.
Growing up he had always been influenced by his father’s unrelenting admonishments. For years he still retained that memory of the 1960’s television commercial for Secret Deodorant.
He came home from the Boy Scouts, proudly telling his father he had learned life-saving “Artificial Perspiration.” His father asked Rizmore, “Who the fuck are you, Katy Winters?” as Mr. Kapottee mocking laughed while pointing at the now classic Secret Deodorant commercial playing on his television.
Mr. Kapottee was known as a chronically unemployed laborer. The family survived on Mrs. Kapottee’s private home care/nursing gigs. She also did “typing homework,” typing labels on envelopes. A popular way to make extra cash in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Rizmore being of limited intelligence as was his father, accepted the fact that Secret Deodorant has special significance. He’s exclusively used it since that encounter.
Rizmore wanted to have perfect breath when he left his apartment. That’s why he loved to gargle with Feminine Hygiene Products. This activity is rooted as well to his teenage days. Mr. Kapottee berated Rizmore by telling him he had “Douche Bag” breath. Thus Rizmore’s use of Feminine Hygiene Products for mouthwash.
Mrs. Kapottee had stated she always wanted a baby girl. She feared how a female Rizmore would look and act. So Rizmore remained an only child. At the instance of Mr. Kapottee, she obtained three illegal abortions over the years to keep it that way.
She received the last one when Rizmore reached five years of age. That third abortion had left her unable to conceive. She went to a woman “practitioner” down by the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The place located in a dirty backroom of a seedy pharmacy.
Mr. Kapottee had a cheap gold plated bracelet made for his wife with three gold-plated metal hangers as charms. One for each aborted fetus. A cruel, dumb obnoxious fuck who refused to employ any method of birth control, that was the Skell Kapottee alright.
The need to use any birth control now conveniently disappeared.
A drunk Kapottee presented the bracelet to his wife. She hid it behind her picture of Jesus in their bedroom, hoping it would assuage her guilt for the abortions.
The dysfunctional years rolled on. First Mrs. Kapottee and then Mr. Kapottee passed away, within three months of each other.
Back to the frequencies:
Rizmore, now living alone, prepared his solitary breakfast. A creature of habit, he heated up a Lenders Frozen plain Bagel. Rizmore boiled water for his Sanka instant coffee, which he drank black.
Every Monday, Rizmore began his Modulation of Expectations. This became his usual involuntary form of mental calisthenics.
The uncontrollable altering of the amplitude or frequency of his existence by the illegal frequencies began. A function unknown to the scientific community. At least that’s what the doctors told him at Kings County Hospital.
Rizmore obtained the uncontrollable ability to become a human electromagnetic wave. His participation performed with the variations of a variety of unknown illegal secondary signals. That’s the problem, the independent secondary signals are some of the illegal frequencies which bombarded him every Monday morning. But a specific unidentified one among the many interacted to involuntary engage Rizmore’s modulation.
His natural frequency was typically one of a higher frequency. He knew nothing about why he had a frequency at all. Rizmore did not know any person who retained such a trait. He also did not know why the illegal frequencies are interfering with his frequency.
Who or what was directing all of this became a mystery as well.
Rizmore reasoned one of the frequencies represented a lower oscillating form which lowered his self-esteem. He probably had misinterpreted some information he and Pebbles researched. It came from an electronics book and a psychology textbook Pebbles had lifted from the old Red Hook branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. That building stood where the Chase Bank is currently located ,around the corner.
That’s why Rizmore felt like shit on Monday mornings: the illegal frequencies.
The frequency variations set an involuntary, but prevailing negative direction in the course of Rizmore’s week. And no matter what he did to avoid the predetermined pitfalls, the week and its actions took that unknown course.
Pebbles and Rizmore were unaware of the details. But they knew the course of the week will be what it always turned out to be.
It was always a negative course.
Rizmore best described it as if one envisions a pile of dog shit on the street. One is all but destined to step in that shit. No matter what one does to avoid it.
Pebbles feared Rizmore’s condition began to rub off on him. But he wouldn’t abandon his pal Rizmore. After all, his weeks were fucked up as well. Pebbles refused to assign any blame to his own limited mental abilities. He thought it must have been leakage from the illegal frequencies causing his own negative direction.
The two had no explanation for their pathetic lives before the onslaught of the frequencies. But they did agree, things had gotten worse since the advent of the Monday morning bombardment of illegal frequencies.
That became the conventional wisdom emanating from Pebbles encounter with the illegal frequencies. The two dolts being purveyors of science fiction and their minds being influenced by The Gypsy Prudence.
The Gypsy Prudence ran a Psychic Readings shop. Once located where the Starbucks presently sits. She was not a gypsy, but a retired prostitute from the Bronx, and graduate of Bronx Community College, Maria Ruiz. The guys would go there to get their fortunes from her crystal ball. They also got a “Happy Ending.” In the dark, under the table, they’d get a penal manipulation from the Gypsy Prudence while they were told to concentrate on what they wanted.
The Gypsy Prudence had, in her own self-serving way, tried to help Rizmore. She had planted the seed of the afterlife in his pea brain as the source of the illegal frequencies. Of course, all this advice preceded Rizmore’s laments about his torturous relationship with his father. Rizmore sought more guidance from The Gypsy Prudence. She provided such guidance, for an additional fee, of course.
Rizmore told The Gypsy Prudence he distinctly remembers his fathers’ last words as he lay dying at Woodhull Hospital. “You’re such a dope, I have to keep you in line, even after I…….” Mr. Kapottee never finished that last sentence before he expired.
Rizmore, with guidance from The Gypsy Prudence, then believed; Might this electromagnetic form of mind control be his father reaching from beyond the grave? The lower frequency always translated to that lower mental acuity for Rizmore. A continuance of admonishments from the past?
He claimed he became dumber every day (if that was at all possible.)
Well, at least The Gypsy Prudence could attest to that. She thought Rizmore was as dumb as dirt.
Rizmore believed by becoming "normal" and conforming to the world, the illegal frequencies could be blocked. That all was impossible because of the Gypsy Prudence. She made him see himself as being punished in his own Myth of Sisyphus.
What action had he taken to be cursed after all this time? He still did not know. She continued to advise, Rizmore seeking her consent and her help to find the answer.
The Gypsy Prudence had to first explain that he did not have Syphilis when a remorseful Rizmore lamented using public toilets over the years. “It’s The Myth of Sisyphus, not SYPHILIS,” she said as she again reminded him it was impossible to get VD from a toilet seat.
He then was able (with her help) to identify the illegal frequency as his father’s ghost. Now that frequency should become frustrated and stop haunting Rizmore. Sounded logical, since it was coming from the Gypsy Prudence.
The problem: Rizmore does not believe he has a conduit that was not affected by the improper inputs of the illegal frequencies. He finally realized he was not equipped intellectually or emotionally to make a stand against the frequencies, even with the help of the Gypsy Prudence. He was quite upset.
Pebbles was becoming more and more perplexed. His rants about fear of the frequencies had led his brother to involuntarily move him out of the Brooklyn to New Jersey. Now Rizmore was now alone, except for the illegal frequencies.
Rizmore felt there was no hope. But he decided on his 21st birthday, April 1, 1971, to do something about it.
Rizmore struck out of his home environment. He decided to experiment with hanging out in SoHo. He crashed at the Comet Hotel flophouse on The Bowery. This, before that downtown milieu was a popular Artist colony. Rizmore soon gained a tepid acceptance from the growing SoHo alternative artistic community.
But success and recognition were not to be.
Rizmore’s collections of weird objects and the montages he developed were quite unique. Participation in high school shop classes is one of the only influences, besides his fathers' admonishments, he had retained.
One freelance columnist, writing for an early incarnation of The Soho Weekly News, observed:
“There is a street artist who goes by the moniker of ‘Rizmore.’ He displays his street art on West Broadway. Rizmore does not let the hustle and bustle of the weekday SoHo street commercial trade bother him. He is operating on a lower level of abstraction as is seen in his art. Rizmore’s naive disregard for verbal communication for the sake of his art is quite refreshing.”
SoHo residents did not realize Rizmore was just eccentric and shy. The writer reflected in his article the SoHo community theory Rizmore possessed a “deep sense of artistic remorse and foreboding which translates into his work, which source of same remains unknown”
The one thing in the artistic community everyone knows: A successful artist must also have the talent of a savvy and sharp business mind. That is essential. Rizmore was not aware and certainly not capable of that essential qualifier. Unfortunately, there was nobody in the fledgling community of the arts willing to become Rizmore’s patron. After a short time, Rizmore abandoned Soho.
He retreated to Red Hook and artistic obscurity.
Back in Red Hook full time, Pebbles was gone and Rizmore rejoined the daily orbit of the Gypsy Prudence. That’s when Rizmore met her cousin Ricardo. He was a Bronx junkie and drug dealer. Ricardo was hiding from not only the cops, but from his wholesale heroin suppliers as well. He’d made too many wrong moves that may have led him to his death or jail.
Ricardo was not the sharpest syringe in the Heroin Kit. Strangely, he and Rizmore hit it off and became unlikely running buddies. To escape the frequencies, Ricardo turned a reluctant Rizmore on to shooting up heroin.
The effects of the frequencies seemed to be diminishing with Rizmore shooting up on Monday mornings. The rest of the week was a clear shot as Rizmore slowly started to get his life together, in spite of the frequencies.
Amazingly - so far - Rizmore did not become addicted to the deadly drug.
While flying every Monday morning on heroin he was able to identify and confront that one illegal frequency. The one that was modulating his life for the worst. The one keeping Rizmore from being all he could be. The frequency was that of Mr. Kapottee, his dead father. The Gypsy Prudence was right!
The heroin problem became acute as time went on. Mr. Kapottee’s influence seemed to wane as the heroin influence gained. Rizmore’s desire to admonish his father remained unquenched. He couldn’t let go of seeing his father only with the use of heroin. Heroin translated into having a Mr. Kapottee residual effect on Rizmore. Rizmore, more intense on a continuing confrontation with his father. That was the high.
Rizmore ignored the gains he made intellectually and artistically. He upped his heroin pops to three times a week. Mr. Kapottee took the abuse with hidden glee and cleverly expanded and then retracted his offensive. He loved the fact that his useless son was turning into a heroin junkie. In death he continued to be a sadistic fuck.
Rizmore now at the “crosspoint,” was stuck there. “Crosspoint” can best be described in visual terms as the frozen point or video frame in time when one video image dissolves into another video image is visible. Rizmore was stuck physically and intellectually between two worlds.
Rizmore started stealing car radios, doing burglaries and mugging old ladies for the money to buy heroin. He had to buy “heroin time” time to rip on his useless father. Even Ricardo knew Rizmore was going way overboard. But Rizmore continued to shoot up to be able to berate his dead father.
But Mr. Kapottee’s actions were like a deep-sea fisherman (Mr. Kapottee) reeling in a fighting giant tuna (Rizmore.) Giving some play in the line, then reeling in some. The thrill and art of the catch.
Mr. Kapottee was having the best time of his death. Rizmore was having the best time of his life.
Rizmore was racking up so much sin, he was almost eligible to join his old man in Hell. But is that not where Mr. Kapottee ultimately wants Rizmore to join him?
Eternal Admonishment from the Sadistic Mr. Kapottee and his master The Devil.
The Kapottee generational confrontation continued. Even Faust enthusiasts would have been interested in this epic battle.
The Gypsy Prudence, of course, was not believing what she is hearing from Rizmore. Confrontations with his dead father? But additionally, she was unable to explain the new lucid and artistically creative Rizmore. “It must be the heroin,” she thought.
She told Rizmore that he has finally beaten his father and can now stop using heroin. The frequencies will now stop (She hopes.) His thirst for revenge and fight have gone on to what even she considered, an unhealthy place. She did not want to tell him it’s all bullshit.
But then Rizmore finally hit bottom.
Pebbles visited Rizmore unannounced. He finds an unconscious Rizmore with a needle stuck in his arm. Rizmore was rushed to the hospital, a victim of an apparent overdose.
That past weekend, Ricardo was locked up by the NYPD Warrant Squad. So Rizmore had now lost his connection and had to venture out on the street to score find heroin. He unintentionally scored a more powerful dose than he was used to.
Ironically, the hospital that saved Rizmore’s life is the same hospital where his father died.
The question became, was he addicted to the heroin or more addicted to the confrontation with his father?
Pebbles stayed that night at the Hospital. He took Rizmore home the next day. The newly intellectually engaged Rizmore tried to explain to Pebbles what’s been happening with the heroin, his father, and the frequencies.
Pebbles takes the usual few seconds after his thought to shake his head and then pronounce: “If you think about and argue with your old man, he wins because that’s what he wants - control - Fuck him and let him stay dead! Using heroin is his tool like his frequency was his tool.”
“Fuck him and let him stay dead?” Rizmore repeated, “Yes!”
Rizmore sent Pebbles back to New Jersey and locked himself in his small apartment. It was a Sunday evening. He was preparing himself for a Monday morning last confrontation with his father.
This time without heroin.
It was over in ten seconds. Rizmore had two words for the elder Kapottee, a forceful and loud: “FUCK OFF.” He then turned away.
Heroin might have been the initial enabler. But it was his own intellect that decided to take command after those years of abuse from his father.
Mr. Kapottee’s frequency diminished right before Rizmore’s glassy eyes. He heard a deafening screech as his father got his express ticket back to hell, empty-handed without Rizmore as promised. The Devil was probably quite pissed. The other frequencies then just disappeared.
He was free.
Rizmore started his solitary cold turkey. He stopped all his clocks and covered all the windows. He would remain in the darkness and take what’s coming. It was worth it.
The Gypsy Prudence was then quite content with her client Rizmore. Under her guidance, (she believes) he has stopped using heroin and has decided to try and sell his art on the street in SoHo.
She still did not believe all that crap about frequencies and the generational confrontation. But she did not shy away from taking credit for Rizmore’s turn around.
Ricardo was released from prison. He got time off for good behavior. The Gypsy Prudence was happy to welcome him back. He then he dropped the good news on her. Ricardo had found Jesus in jail. He was Born Again and off the shit.
The Gypsy Prudence saw it as a golden opportunity. New York was becoming a drag. Ricardo was still wanted by his drug-dealing associates. She and Ricardo obtained new identities and moved out west to start their own church. Another scam for The Gypsy Prudence using an innocent dolt.
Rizmore started hanging out in this very bar. His apartment building caught fire and burned to the ground. He just picked up and left the neighborhood. I believe he met a Japanese woman in SoHo and decided to move to Japan to create art.
So that, my new young friends, is the tale of the Illegal Frequencies. Mickey McDougall said as he belted down another in a long line of free double bourbons. Mickey knew the CLAPs wanted to believe the story. He was not that drunk to miss the excited look in their eyes.
He then motioned over to Kelley the Bartender. He pointed to the picture of Jesus hanging over the bar and made a flipping motion with his hand. There behind the picture, Kelly grabbed a gold bracelet with three charms fashioned as metal hangers and threw it on the bar. Mickey picked it up.
This is what's left of the illegal frequencies. When Rizmore’s apartment house burned to the ground, that picture of Jesus and the bracelet were the only items left. Rizmore hung them right there and soon left the neighborhood.
The CLAPs thanked Mickey, paid the tab and left a generous tip for Kelley and departed happy campers.
Published 12/22/17 www.short.story.me