Thursday, December 31, 2020

LOCKDOWN? WHAT LOCKDOWN?

 


Photo: Howard Cannon



Well done, gov.

Send in the clowns, uh, cops.

Except they're not clowns. You and your cohorts are.

The cops are smarter. 

They won't come. 

They have no interest in enforcing your nonsense.



NEW YEAR'S EVE PARTY

 


Photo: Howard Cannon



In dis-accordance with Governor Gavin Newsom's autocratic and hypocritical lockdown mandate, all are welcome to gather and see the sun set on 2020 at Butterfly Beach.

Masks optional.  (We are generally pro-oxygen in the open air.)

If the last few evenings at Butterfly are anything to go by, should be a huge showing.

One thing is for certain: We are not locked down in Santa Barbara and south county.

The gov and all his Gestapo bureaucrats can eat shit.


Sunset: 4:58.

Bring champagne.



THE MISFIT UNIT: 14








 29.

 

 

Three thousand miles and an ocean away from Jeff Dalkin's deposition in Washington D.C., it is just past four o'clock in the afternoon in London where Richard Thornington awaits a very special guest for high tea inside the Capital Hotel on Basil Street in Knightsbridge.

When the Russian, a large, husky man with fleshy cheeks and a bushy moustache finally arrives, he appears to Thornington more nervous than when last they met.  

He was late because he had taken the tube (subway), two buses and a taxi to reach this destination.  He had alighted at Harvey Nichol's, top end of Sloane Street, descended into Wagamanna, a fashionable Japanese noodle restaurant, cut through men's fashion, elevated up to the ground floor and made his way to Basil Street by cutting through the Millennium Hotel.  

Only when he was completely satisfied that he had confounded whatever surveillance might have attached to him did Igor Sokolov appear at Thornington's rendezvous site.

Perspiring, as much from the news he possessed as the trek he had undertaken to meet his British friend, Sokolov quietly seats himself.  “Hi,” he says to Thornington.

"No," replies a capricious Thornington.  "Just naturally happy."

Happy is a difficult concept for a Russian to understand; especially this Russian, this day. 

"A problem," Sokolov whispers, hunching over the table.

"Oh?"  Thornington smiles, as he does with any new problem—a quality that drove his superiors at MI5 crazy.

"A CIA man, he is offering service to SVR."

Thornington shrugs.  "Very interesting.  But why is it a problem?"

"This man, he knows about SVR-Red Mafia operations. Our bizniz."

Thornington's smile disappears.

"He offers to sell," continues Sokolov.  "Directly to Zudex."

"In Monaco?"  Thornington's mouth is dry having lost all its moisture

Sokolov nods.  "He makes offer, SVR check him, he is genuine."

"Do you have a name?"  Thornington already has a strong suspicion who.  But in the espionage business validation is everything.

Sokolov shakes his head.  "Nyet.  Very sensitive.  You can imagine."

"Has this CIA man told them anything yet?"     

"Nyet.  He offers.  He asks big deal, big money.  They check.  I hear this morning, Moscow decides to make deal.  Now they wait him to return."

"Return to...?"

"Monaco."

Both men remain mute while a waiter serves a pot of Earl Grey tea and a three-tiered platter of cucumber sandwiches and miniature cakes.

"Can you get a name?" asks Thornington.         

Sokolov shakes his head.  "Too risky.  His name now has red star.  Big red star.  If I ask, case officer in charge hears.  He calls me, he says, 'Why you are interested?'"

"Do you still have the old files you gave me?" asks Thornington.

"Nyet."  Sokolov shudders.  "I burn everything."

"Can you recall anything from the files?"

"I try to forget."

"Try to remember," says Thornington.  "I need to start over.  My service destroyed what I had."

For the first time Sokolov grins.  "No surprise."  He pauses.  "I know who."

"You know who what?"

"I know who is SVR mole in MI5."

Thornington almost falls out of his chair.  "An actual identity?"

Sokolov nods.

"Who?" Thornington

"Ah.  This is million-dollar question.  No.  Question cheap."  Sokolov smiles.  "This is million-dollar answer.  But too risky.  Maybe they trace to me."

This, in itself, does not deter Thornington.  The Russian often speculated that anything and everything could be traced to him—a paranoid stance inherent in the Russian service, if not most Russians.  

"You must have a price," says the Englishman.

"I tell you."  Sokolov's big cheeks flush from the merriment of his proposal.  "One million dollars."

"I can't get that kind of money," says Thornington.

The Russian shrugs.  "How much you get?"

Everything, but everything, was negotiable.

"I don't know.  I will have to check."

"You check, then always big problem," says Sokolov. "Mole hears, he stops you.  Or runs to Moscow."

"But only a very few people at the top would know," says Thornington.

"Of course."  Sokolov grins.  "That is problem."

"You're saying that someone at the top—one of only a handful of people who would be privy to this—that's who the mole is?"

"I say nothing more."  The Russian winks.  "But you see problem, no?  So maybe better we forget."

"I could go to the yanks."

Sokolov sighs. "You forget how we begin today, with CIA defector?"

"Yes, mmm," says Thornington.  "I need your recollection of past files."  The Englishman produces an envelope.  "For that I can pay you cash."

Sokolov peeks inside and is delighted to see a stack of fifty-pound notes, not twenties.  

He pockets the envelope and sighs.



Wednesday, December 30, 2020

THE MISFIT UNIT: 13







 28.

 

 

Jeff Dalkin arrives at Bacon, Hump wearing blue jeans, a polo shirt, dirty sneakers and his Hot Dog on a Stick baseball cap.

Bradley Fatwood looks up and scowls. "Everyone else will be wearing a jacket and tie."

"I'm not actually everyone else," says Dalkin.  "I'm actually the star of this goddam show.  And I'm paying for it, too.  So I think I'll wear whatever the fuck I want.  Capito?”

Fatwood flinches.  "Remember, it's on video."

"Yep.  If I'm gonna look a certain way for all-time posterity, it's like this."

"Will you at least take off the hat?"

"If I can chew gum."

"Opposing counsel may object."

"I already object to being here.  If they don't actually like the way I am, they shouldn't have invited me." Dalkin pops a block of Bazooka bubblegum into his mouth.  "So, what’s next, chief?"

"They're setting up in the conference room.  We don't have to appear until they're ready."

"Who've we got?"

"Both Worthogs, the plaintiff..."

"She's here?"

"It's permitted," says Fatwood.  "She's not allowed to ask questions, or say anything, but she's allowed to observe.  Bernie Rosen of Dillywhacker and Ropey.”  Fatwood stands.  "I'll go see if they're ready.”

Ten minutes later, Fatwood returns and leads Dalkin through a maze of corridors.  

Entering the large conference room, Dalkin blows a big bubble until it pops.

The Worthogs, father and son, look up at him, astonished.

"I hope you two nose-picks aren't as stupid as you look," Dalkin addresses them.  "I want to actually be challenged by somebody smart."

Worthog senior harrumphs and looks away; junior shuffles papers and bounces in his seat, while Fatwood rolls his eyes, embarrassed.

Dalkin takes his chair at the far end of the long, rectangular conference table, facing Worthog senior.  

On Dalkin's right, at the head of the table, sits a young female stenographer.  Dalkin has a Tourettic urge to holler big tits there and then, but manages to restrain himself.  

Behind Worthog's left shoulder lurches a videographer, manning a camera on a tripod.

Dalkin catches the videographer's eye, twists his head right and left and winks.  "Which one's my good side?"

The videographer chuckles, already sensing this was not going to be your normal boring deposition.

Worthog senior—Milton—does not look the picture of health.  His complexion is pasty gray and his eyes convey physiological mayhem within.  Truth be known, it looked like the grim reaper was already beating a cane at the elder Worthog’s door. 

The half-dead Worthog scowls at Dalkin while his videographer runs through preliminaries, such as time and date and case identifiers.  Then Worthog requests that counsel state their names and whom they represent, beginning with himself.  He introduces his son, Watson Worthog and the plaintiff, Rhoda Rigglesworth, who flashes a wan smile, enjoying this moment of recognition.

Yes, this is Rhoda's Big Day.  She is dressed in her best Talbot’s business suit and had her hair washed, cut, layered, teased, dyed, highlighted and blow-dried for the occasion.

In appreciation of Rhoda's presence, Dalkin lifts his butt and cracks a thunderous cheezer, producing a putrid odor of almost pure methane that settles upon the opposition.  

Amid horrified looks, the flatulent deponent turns to Bradley Fatwood.  "Sorry, counselor, I guess I should-a steered clear of that egg salad, baked beans and beer last night."  He shoots a thumb across the table.  "Plus being around ass-wipes like this, it actually brings out the fartiste in me."  Dalkin turns to the videographer.  "Sorry, sport, don't mind me—I’m just here for the laughs.  Carry on."

"Counsel," the videographer speaks in a mid-Western nasal twang. "Please state your names and who you represent."

"Bernard Rosen for Ding-a-Ling Widgets," says Rosen.

"Bradley Fatwood for Jeff Dalkin."

"Would you swear the witness, please," says Worthog sternly.

The court reporter asks Dalkin to raise his right hand and repeat the oath after her.

Would you please state your full name and address for the record, sir," says Worthog.

Dalkin allows himself a deep breath and takes his time to exhale, a trick he'd garnered on how to handle depositions:  It provides the deponent time to formulate an answer while feeding oxygen to the brain all the while disrupting the interrogator’s rhythm.  "Jeff Dalkin—hot-diggedy-dogaroonie. One-one-eight-seven Coast Vil..."

"Excuse me," Worthog interrupts.  "Is hot-diggedy-dogaroonie your middle name?"

 Dalkin inhales, exhales.  "No."

"Then why did you say that?"

"It popped out of my mouth."

"It popped out of your mouth?"  Worthog pulls a face.

"I want to note for the record," Bradley Fatwood interjects, "my client suffers from Tourette's syndrome."

Dalkin turns to his lawyer.  "I object,” he says.  “I don't suffer Tourette's.  I actually enjoy it."

Fatwood looks straight ahead at Worthog.  "My client curses uncontrollably."

Worthog absorbs this.  "How long have you enjoyed Tourette's syndrome?"

"Ever since Mister Slater—Nazi schwinehund dickhead.”

"Mister Slater?"

"Mister Slater—Nazi schwinehund—he was my third-grade teacher.  They thought I was stupid. Or maybe possessed by Satan.”

"Are you?" asks Worthog.

"Objection," said Fatwood.

"Am I what?"

"Are you possessed by Satan?"

"Objection," says Fatwood.

"No," says Dalkin.  "I'm actually the opposite."

"What does that mean?"

"Objection," says Fatwood.

"I'm a kind of exorcist," says Dalkin.  "I have the toe of my boot up Satan's sphincter."

"Can you elaborate?"

"Objection," says Fatwood.

"I exorcise demons that torment my clients—dumb muther-fucks."  Dalkin fills a vacuum of awed silence with another deep breath.  "And I do it with a bottle of whisky in one hand and a cigar in the other.  It's called exorcising the devil on his own terms."  Dalkin smirks like Bruce Willis.  "Actually, my own concept."

"Isn't an exorcist supposed to be a Catholic priest, Mister Dalkin," asks Worthog with the matter-of-factness of a corpse.

"Life is more complicated these days.”  Dalkin winks.  "The trick is to fool the devil, whether you're Catholic or not."          

"You may continue," says Worthog.

Dalkin inhales, exhales.  "Thanks, chief.  What was your question?"

Worthog instructs the court reporter to repeat the question.

The court reporter scrolls backwards on her stenographic gizmo.  "Your address, for the record."

"One-one-eight-seven Coast Village Road, Santa Barbara, California."

"The address you have just given," said Worthog.  "Is that an address you own?"

"No."

"Is that an address you rent?"

"Yes."

"How much in rent do you pay?"

"Forty-five dollars a month."

Worthog's face expresses puzzlement.  "How long have you lived there?"

"I actually don't live there."

"But I asked for your address."

Dalkin says nothing.

"I instruct the witness to answer," said Worthog, exasperation mounting.

Dalkin shrugs.  "What's your question?"

"Your address."

"That's not actually a question," says Dalkin.  "It's actually a statement.  And, anyway, I actually gave you my address."

"An address is where you live."

"Actually, no.  Anyone got a dictionary?"  Dalkin looks around.  "No?  Okay, here's the definition:  an address is where you receive mail."

"Where do you reside?" demands Worthog.  "As in, sleep at night."

Dalkin recites his Villa Fontana address.

"How long have you lived there, sir?"

"About three months."

"Move around a lot?"

"Objection," says Fatwood.

"Mister Dalkin," Worthog moves on.  "Would you please state your educational background?"

"Grade school—skank-sucking shit-fucks—in Asbury Park, New Jersey—jack-shitting jerkoffs.  Asbury High.  Monmouth College."

"Did you graduate from high school?"

"Barely."

"Do you have any degrees, sir?"

"Most of what I know doesn't come as a degree."

"You mean how to con innocent people?"

"Objection," says Fatwood.  "I instruct my client not to answer."

"Mister Dalkin, would you describe your work background?"

"I was a special agent with the F-F... fecal barf-bags of incontinence, uh..."

"The FBI?" Worthog interjected.

"Yeah—baloney beaters.”

"Can you tell us how long you were a special agent for the FBI?"

"Ten years."

"Why did you leave?  Were you fired?" Worthog tosses in.

"Objection," says Fatwood.

"Actually, I got bored," says Dalkin.

"But what about the benefits, like a pension?"

"What about them?"

"Isn't it true that you were not liked at the FBI?"

"Objection," says Fatwood. 

"It's not actually for me to say whether others actually liked me or not," says Dalkin.  "Ask them."

"There was no possibility of advancement at the FBI for you, was there, Mister Dalkin?"

"I wouldn't know.  Just did my job."

"Until you got bored," says Worthog.

"That's actually what I said."

"And what did you do after that?"

Deep inhale; deep exhale.  "I took a vacation."

"I mean professionally.  What was your next job?"

"Self-employed."

"Doing what?"

"Consultant."

Worthog scoffs.  "What does that word consultant mean?"

"It means clients—dumb muther-fucks—hire me to consult for them."

"Who are your clients?"

"Objection," says Fatwood.  "That's beyond the scope of this deposition.  You must narrow your questioning, Mister Worthog, so that it pertains to the plaintiff."

"I am going to shortly," says Worthog.  He returns to Dalkin.  "Was one of your clients Ding-a-Ling Widgets?"

"Yes," says Dalkin.

"And what was the nature of your work for Ding-a-Ling?"

"Consulting."

"What kind of consulting do you do, Mister Dalkin?"

"Investigative consulting."

"Isn't investigative consulting just a euphemism for spying?"

"Objection," says Fatwood.

"Objection," echoes Rosen.

"I guess it's a question of semantics." Dalkin folds his arms.  "Isn't contingency lawyer just a euphemism for sleazy shakedown artist?"

Bradley Fatwood kicks Dalkin under the table. 

Worthog steadies his dull gaze at the deponent.  "Mister Dalkin, do you take these proceedings lightly?"

Dalkin takes a deep breath and exhales slowly.   "Mister Worthog, this case may be a big fucking deal to you.  But to me, it's actually like a boil on my butt.  In other words, it's a small nuisance that deserves to have the poison squeezed out of it."  Dalkin turns to the stenographer.  "Got all that?  Big tits!  No, I... never mind." 

Watson Worthog pushes a slip of paper to his father.  "Here, here," he says, fidgeting like a chipmunk.  "Ask him this."

“Leave me alone!” Worthog senior hisses at his son.  He seems to have little regard for this dork, unemployable elsewhere.  But he looks at the question nonetheless and re-faces Dalkin.  "Do you hold any professional licenses?"

"No."

"Do you hold any licenses at all?"

"Yes."

"And what license is that?"

"My driver's license."  Dalkin smirks, a good Bruce Willis smirk.

"So you're in the private investigation business without a license?"

"No."

"Then what?"

"Then what-what?"

"How can you be a professional private investigator without a license?"

"Simple," says Dalkin.  "I'm not a private investigator, I'm an investigative consultant."

"What is the difference?"

"The difference is, I don't actually need a license to be an investigative consultant.  

"How does that work?"

"Like this: If I need information, I subcontract to licensed private dicks.”

"Where do you practice investigative consulting?"

"Wherever the job takes me."

"Has the job ever taken you into Washington DC?"

"Yes."

"Do you know Ms. Rhoda Rigglesworth?"  Worthogs glances at his client.

"Yes."

"Did you ever meet with Rhoda Rigglesworth in Washington DC?"

"Yes."

"Were you paid to meet Rhoda Rigglesworth by Ding-a-Ling Widgets?"

"Objection," says Bernie Rosen.

"Yes," says Dalkin.

"Did you solicit information from Rhoda Rigglesworth on her journalistic investigation of Ding-a-Ling Widgets?"

"I lent her an ear," says Dalkin.

"You lent her an ear?  What does that mean?"

"It means Rigglesworth likes to yak about her work.  I just listened."

"You just listened?"

"Yes.  Once Rigglesworth starts yakking about herself, it is actually difficult to get her to shut up."

Rhoda Rigglesworth gasps.

"Do you have any idea what you've done to this poor woman?" Worthog demands.

"Objection," calls Fatwood.

"Objection," calls Rosen.

"You mean chronic diarrhea?" says Dalkin. "Investigation is actually a two-way street.  If Rigglesworth doesn't have the stomach for playing the big leagues, she probably should have been a librarian."

"Mister Dalkin," says Worthog with as much sternness as he can muster.  "Do you understand why you are here today?"

"Yes."

"And why is that, sir?"

"The writer Gore Vidal once said, and I quote, 'Litigation replaces sex in middle age.'"  Dalkin pauses.  "I actually think that's why we're here.  Especially in your case.” 

Worthog harrumphs.  "Mister Dalkin, how much did Ding-a-Ling Widgets pay you to gain Ms. Rigglesworth's confidence?"

"Objection," calls Bernie Rosen.

"Ding-a-Ling paid me seventy-five hundred a month to consult for them."

"Were you paid in cash?"

"No."

"Did you receive a 1099 form from Ding-a-Ling?"

"Probably."

"Did you report your payment from Ding-a-Ling Circus to the IRS?"

"Of course."

“Objection,” calls Fatwood.

"Then you must have records."  Worthog smacks his open palm on the table.  "Why have we not received this documentation as requested?"

"All this happened about nine years ago,” says Dalkin.  “I actually don't keep records that far back."

"Not even your tax returns?"        

"Especially not my tax returns."

"Do you retain any records from your work?"

"Current projects only."

"Such as?"

"Objection," says Fatwood.  "I instruct my client not to answer."

"Are you familiar with the name Richard Mutton?"

"Yes."

"Did you know Richard Mutton?"

"I thought I knew a Dick Mutton—mutant masturbator," says Dalkin.  "Emphasis on dick."

"You thought?"

"Yeah, the dick I knew wasn't a two-timing son-of-a-whore."            

"Did you know that Richard Mutton was senior vice president at Ding-a-Ling Widgets?"

"Yes."

"Was it Richard Mutton who hired you to consult for Ding-a-Ling?"

"Objection," says Rosen.

"Yes," says Dalkin.

"Mister Dalkin, are you aware that you bear a striking resemblance to Bruce Willis, the movie actor?"

Dalkin smirks.  "I am aware that Bruce—willie-wankstain—Willis bears a striking resemblance to me.”

"And is it also true that you use your Bruce Willis looks in your work as an investigative consultant?" 

"No."

"I remind the deponent that he is under oath."

"Thanks, chief," says Dalkin.

"Why did you hold yourself out as Bruce Willis to Rhoda Rigglesworth?"

"I didn't.""

"How do you explain that Ms. Rigglesworth believed you to be Bruce Willis?"

"I think you just explained that yourself."  Dalkin smirks.  "Bruce—willie-wankstain Willis—looks like me.”

"You did not tell Rhoda Rigglesworth you were Bruce Willis?"

"Why the hell would I do that if I’m not Bruce—willie-wankstain—Willis?"

“So your answer is no?”

“Yes.  No.”

"Then why did she believe this were so?" asks Worthog.

"You’d have to ask her, not me.” 

“I'll ask you again. Why do you think Ms. Rigglesworth thought you were Bruce Willis?”

Dalkin shrugs. “You said so yourself.  Bruce—willie-wankstain—Willis looks like me and people fool themselves.”

"But once you allowed Ms. Rigglesworth to believe you were Bruce Willis, you continued this ruse?"

"Objection," says Fatwood.

"What ruse?" says Dalkin.

"Making Ms. Rigglesworth believe that you would assist her with her intellectual property while all the while having no intention to do so."

"I didn't make Rigglesworth believe anything." 

"You held yourself out as someone who would assist Ms. Rigglesworth and then you reported everything you found out about her to Ding-a-Ling Widgets.   Right, Mister Dalkin?"

"What's right is that Rigglesworth must have thought I was Bruce Willis and yakked her friggin' head off about her various writing projects."

"And you reported everything she told you to Ding-a-Ling?"

"Of course."

“Objection,” says Bernie Rosen.

"Including personal information about Ms. Rigglesworth?"

 Dalkin shrugs.  "Whatever she told me."

 “Objection,” says Bernie Rosen.

"And you specifically asked about her personal life, didn't you, Mister Dalkin?"

"Like I already told you, I didn't ask nothing about nothing.  I didn't have to.  Rigglesworth poured herself out like beer piss.  I didn't give a shit about her personal life.  Ding-a-Lings only interest was why a freelance reporter was maliciously targeting them.  What was I supposed to do when she started yakking about her hair stylist, tell her to shut up?  I sure as hell felt like it.  But I listened out of politeness."

"You're going to sit there and tell us that you were polite to Ms. Rigglesworth?"

"Objection," says Fatwood.

"I'm just answering your question with the truth I've been sworn to tell," says Dalkin.  "And I'll tell you something else..."

“I’m calling a recess,” says Worthog.

"Call the tooth fairy," says Dalkin.