Saturday, April 17, 2010

Bonnie and Clyde (1970's Version)

Sometimes, when you become close friends with someone, you also become involved with the people in that person's life. Naturally, you get to know your friend's family and such. Yet, you also may get to know their neighbors and friends of their neighbors. One new friend incurs hundreds of acquaintances. This is a story of a friend of a neighbor of a friend of mine.

I had become friends with Steve. We use to sit on his porch drinking beer to pass the evening away. These were summer nights in the mid-1970's. I recall how the days were compressed with heat pulsating up from the ground and the sun blasting down from cloudless skies. The nights would creep in on a cooling breeze bringing release from the furnace of the day. We took full pleasure from dusk to dawn, sitting back, relaxed, congregating on Steve's front porch, sipping brewskis, and hold discussions as if we were the world's greatest philosophers.

Steve's next door neighbor was rarely home. I can't recall his name right now, so I will refer to him as Sheldon. Sheldon had a friend named Jay Nahto (this is a nom de guerre) who would forever be trying to visit Sheldon. It would not surprise me to find out that Sheldon was home, sitting in the dark, refusing to answer his door during Jay's visits. Jay Nahto was a nut.

I used the phrase "nom de guerre" for Jay. "Nom de guerre" means a fictitious name, but also has connotations of a "Fighting Name" like "Carlos, the Jackal" or the "Red Baron." Jay Nahto was an active soldier in the war on drugs. Unfortunately, he was on the wrong side. He was not merely a combatant, he was taken prisoner and his life story had been turned into a propaganda film by the other side.

On more than one occasion, after finding Sheldon not home, Jay Nahto would meander over to Steve's porch and inject himself into our conversation. We mostly ignored him, hoping he would go away, and after fifteen or twenty minutes, he generally would. Once he came over and his arms was covered with a multitude of cuts and in several places, stitches. Our curiosity got the better of us and we asked what had happened. Jay went on to explain that a few nights earlier he had taken a few tabs of acid... (A few tabs! One is a nightmare.) ...and when he went home, he found his father had changed the locks, his keys no longer worked. Jay still lived with his parents. He refused to be kept out of his home, so to gain entrance he took a running leap through the front window. He found himself in his next door neighbor's front room. But not for long, the neighbors had already called the police when they heard him trying to force his keys to work their locks. The cops were pulling up when he plunged through the glass. It was less than a minute before Jay Nahto was in handcuffs and on his way to jail. The next day his parents made good with the neighbors and they dropped the charges.

By the end of summer, we hadn't seen Jay Nahto for about a month, and we wondered if he finally gave up trying to visit Sheldon. We asked Sheldon about it and this is what he told us became of Jay Nahto:

Jay Nahto was actually a junior. He shared his name with his father. Jay wanted to go out bar hopping and was without the funds to do so. He waited until his parents went to sleep, snuck into their room, and removed one of his father's credit cards from his wallet. He now had the means for a bar bill. He went up to a local watering hole to imbibe an inebriation. Since Jay Nahto was generous with his father's money, he treated many women to drinks in hopes of companionship. One female saw the possibilities of Jay Nahto's credit card and cozied right up to him. The night ended with the two of them renting a room, and stocking it with enough booze for a fraternity party. Their bender embarks.

Soon, the booze is not enough. Jay's woman (Since I do not know if I ever knew her name, I shall now bestow her the moniker of Jezebel) had access to a cabin up north in Caseville. Jezebel grew up in that area, and she knew several people up there who sold drugs. Thus Jay and Jezebel hopped in her car and headed north. They somehow managed to avoid colliding with any other vehicles or objects as they drunk drove the entire hundred plus mile trip.

Upon arrival in Caseville, and after finding all Jezebel's drug sources dried up, the couple concluded that the only way to get some dope is to liberate it from a local drugstore. Jay was to keep the pharmacist busy while Jezebel crept behind the counter and grabbed whatever she could. It went perfect for our modern day Bonnie and Clyde. Apparently intoxicated customers make good diversions for druggists. Jezebel made off with dozens of bottles of all sorts of pharmaceutical goodies. The two were so happy with their achievement that they stopped at city hall and applied for a marriage license before settling back to the cabin with their stash.

Jay and Jezebel filtered through the bottles of pills to find the ones best to their likings. Unbeknownst to Jay, Jezebel kept the strongest of the narcatics for herself. The night was filled with pill popping and booze guzzling until the two were knocked unconscience. In the morning only Jay would wake up.

Jezebel had overdosed sometime during the night. Jay tried to awaken his fiance's corpse. No luck. So he ate some more pills and drank some more booze while waiting to decide his next course of action. He stayed in the cabin for two days with the dead girl before running out of intoxicants. Finally he called for an ambulance. The ambulance attendants called for the police. The police called for a coroner. Jay had told the police that he had just found her. They were suspicious but since it appeared to be an accidental overdose, they did not press Jay for further information.

Jay volunteered to pay the funeral expenses. After all, she was his fiance and he did have his father's credit card. The funny thing about credit cards back in the 1970's was that if you kept your purchases under a $100 and you had the proper ID, you were good to go, but if you try to put a $5000 funeral on a credit card, the funeral parlor will check with the credit card company before going forth. Well, Jay Senior had discovered his card missing and had reported it stolen. So while picking out a coffin, the police once again swooped in and arrested Jay Nahto.

Jay's father did not want to press charges on his son. This time it did not matter. The credit card company was the one to decide. And they did not like their cards being used without permission. Even if the card was being used towards a decent cause such as the proper burial of a fellow human being.

But credit card fraud was only half of Jay Nahto's problem. The Caseville pharmacy had a closed circuit tv system and the drug thievery had been recorded. Jay and Jezebel's images were clear as day. When the prosecutor presented the evidence to Jay, Jay agreed to plead guilty. The prosecutor was very happy with this. He had planned to offer Jay a reduced charge, just to get the case done with, but Jay volunteered his guilty plea before the lesser charge was mentioned. When Jay Nahto was in the wrong, Jay Nahto would not hesitate to admit it.

Sheldon relayed this story to us. He concluded by saying we would not be seeing Jay for at least five years but, with any luck, not for another ten.

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