Saturday, August 14, 2004

The Poet Bank Robber

I found out upon my return from England, that a friend of mine, who I haven't been in touch with in a while, was arrested for robbing a bank. Like everything he's done in life, he choose the more unorthodox route of driving up to the window, and passing the teller a note demanding money. I assure you this guy was unarmed, and probably wanted the money to buy drugs, although, at this point, it's all speculation. So now he's arrested, and as soon as I figure out how, I'm going to go see him.
He came by my work recently, left a note that said, {On my way to Santa Cruz CA, just wanted to see your face, asshole...} I wasn't there, but I wonder what we would have talked about, had I been there. Would that chance meeting have prevented him from landing where he is now? Did he even go to Santa Cruz? He was arrested locally.
I first met the poet bank robber when we were both waiting tables at a forgetable national bar/restaurant chain. We became friends once we realized we both agreed on how crappy our soul-sucking wait jobs were. We also bonded over Jack Kerouc and Allen Ginsberg. Both fascinated by the romanticism of Beat poetry and the possibilities of a life lived without constraints. I was dreaming about it, he was actually living it.
He got married in a coffee shop by an Elvis impersonator. They took off to places like Florida and New York city. I was happy for them. I was jealous of them. I wished I had the courage to take off like that, without anything certain. But it wasn't enough for him.
He eventually took off again, without her this time. This time for California. Stealing his wife's car, he ended up in San Francisco. What was he doing, I wondered? How could he do that to her, they were the perfect couple? What's going on in this guys head?
Eventually he made it back to Memphis, and I even got him a job working with me on the river. We talked about starting a free literary magazine here in Memphis, we were going to call it The Bluff City Bohemian. I asked him if he had anything in mind for the first issue. He gave me a collection of poems, a huge amount. Well, maybe not huge, but I had no idea he was writing poetry like this. And they were good, very good. I spent the next few days reading and re-reading them.
"Be careful with them, cause those are the only copies I have." he told me when he handed them over. One of the few times he showed real interest in something. That he cared how this was going to turn out. The magazine never panned out, and eventually the poet bank robber stopped showing up at work.
I lost touch with him after that. I would here things here and there; working at a convinient store in Florida, living in a commune in North Carolina, fathered a child with some other girl somewhere. But I never heard from him directly until he left that note at work a couple months ago. I was wondering where he would end up. I found out when I got off the plane from Amsterdam. Sad, really...


Blogger coup_d_tat said...

Perfect, really...

12:41 AM  
Blogger RBP said...

Coup d_tat, well, you definitely earned the right to that opinion.

8:38 AM  
Blogger coup_d_tat said...

what you said was perfect, not what happened. i, too, wonder if i could have made the outcome any different, or for that matter, if i actually had something to do with it. that sounds vain, but i'm sure we're not the only ones thinking these things.

10:37 AM  

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