Same old Same old…
A Special Kind of Liar
There’s no way Fred was expecting me. He had every reason to think he’d never see me again.
More than a week had passed since I’d witnessed the way cool Fred Berdine nearly choked to death in the clutches of his former boss. That was the day “The amazing Mr. George Heaton” had talked his way out of that Norfolk city jail, packed up his small army of predators and scammers and caravanned the lot of us (with a police escort) out of the entire State of Nebraska.
The day Fred had made his big play… and failed.
I couldn’t even be sure he was still in Norfolk. A lot can happen in a week. A lot had sure happened to me. I left the entryway of the random building where I’d been hiding from that crazy little fucker who’d picked me up on the road in Oklahoma and drove me back across two state lines at gunpoint, and I started walking. Walking again. This time however, I walked only the few blocks to the address Fred had given me more than a week ago. Back when he’d tried to get me to leave George’s crew and join with him.
For all I knew, Fred had completely written me off. Just another loss from his failed big play. No reason to think I’d knock on his door now.
It wasn’t too late at night, but it was dark. When Fred opened the door, he sure didn’t show any surprise. Yea, Fred was a player, a penny-ante player perhaps, but still a player. He didn’t flinch. He took one look at me, assessed the situation and welcomed his former scammer in training, into the apartment with a smile.
As I recounted my tale, his smile widened as he heard about what I’d given up to get back. Back into what he clearly saw as his domain. However he’d seen me before, I was an asset now and I was completely under his wing… his tutelage. No doubt whatever schemes and/or scams he’d already had in the works, they were gladly and seamlessly modified to include me.
That very night, Fred started stacking up the lies and checking me out to see which ones would best suit those schemes and/or scams of his. Checking out which lies would hold me, which ones would mold me, which lies to shake me and which ones to break me.
Fred was a special kind of liar, possibly as good a one as The Master Manipulator, Mr. George Heaton himself…. perhaps even better in a way. He had a much different style for sure.
These predatory scammers all manipulate their marks, with lies of the classic carrot and stick variety. George’s stick was that of the brute, the big bully and his carrot was equally obvious. He used his size and gregariousness to win them over with overwhelming fawning and flattery.
Fred was subtler. Smooth, but not slimy-slick like some of the other predators among George’s upper level men. Like Guy (and all the others) Fred cast a more diminutive shadow than their obviously imposing big boss, but he would have never thrown all in with George like they had.
That’s probably what had pissed George off so completely and led to all that violence. George must have seen how Fred’s style of manipulating prospective minions in the operation was something special. George may have even given up a level of control to keep Fred as long as he did. He’d recognized he didn’t have a carrot anything like the one Fred had.
Fred was cool!
Fred was so very cool and I was so very captivated by his coolness. I wanted to be cool and Fred was promising me a coolness I’d been dreaming of for a long time.
That night I went to sleep on the couch in “Fred’s apartment” feeling like I was closer to realizing those cool rock n roll dreams than ever. I put that bit about it being Fred’s apartment in quotes because it was not, yet it was. Over the past week, Fred had obviously appropriated the apartment from Mary, his “girlfriend” and her two young boys. No doubt the lies he’d used to do that were far more conventional. Like men have lied and cheated and used women for their own selfish ends, since forever.
It’s possible that Mary knew Fred was lying to her and just chose to go along with it all for her own reasons. My adult self is through with trying to figure out those kinds of things. Why people do what they do. I would have no idea about any of it till well after Norfolk.
In the meantime, I was totally on board. Fred was my guy, my new mentor.
Fred was so cool, I wanted to believe him. Even after I started to suspect that he was at least exaggerating that this band was a real thing for me to look forward to…
I so wanted to believe.