The Dying Words of Dutch Schultz, Gangster/Poet/Corpse

1 Aug

On October 23, 1935, New York beer baron/gangster Dutch Schultz and three associates were ambushed by members of the deadly Murder, Inc. at the Palace Chop House restaurant in Newark, New Jersey. The four victims were rushed to Newark City Hospital, Schultz to an empty ward where he was grilled for information by police. With the storied hoodlum vacillating between lucidity and gibberish as the life ebbed from his body, the interrogation was unsuccessful. Schultz’s dying words, however, achieved a strange, almost poetic immortality, inspiring plays and books (most notably William S. Burroughs’ The Last Words of Dutch Schultz) and the following rushed doggerel. (For Dutch’s real last words, click here.)

Father Honey, Sister Bread, what good is lawn darts when you’re dead? Pilloried in the Sasquatch twilight. Pearls of thunder, peals of swine. Pajamas, strollers, tomcats through fence slits. Colin Meloy in a turquoise sash, heroic. Her smile drew crimson, the same stiletto smirk that would’ve aerated “Mad Dog” Coll had I not ordered his cosmos snuffed to a dying iris first. 1935, 1936, 1937, 1938 — there are just too many years to list until the sandwich that kills Mama Cass. Mama, maternity, paternity, plus-sized elegance guaranteed, festooned in bejeweled betrayal. “Oh, mama,” moaned the Betamax in the shadow of VHS, but neither, see, neither hailed the oracle to mind the Charleston stomp of Blu-Ray, Blue Jay, hot jazz Fridays, toilet-tussle weekends for an eyeshadowed wink and a ten-spot to a blind eye turned. Swim in the mint of lilac and the jacked-up breath of a good-time squeal, errant smooch pickled in hooch, leaving little cobwebs of lust on your neck, a trail of wet, glistening diamonds in the nightclub swing. Dolled-up pixie once asked me if I ever got it licked and I said I was still seeing a shrink for that purpose.

Did you ever notice that only three letters separate footfalls from footballs, even though it takes more than three of the former to reach the latter in an opening kickoff? Cold coffee tastes best on rumpled silk. Roast beef croons in Cantonese if you listen close on quiet nights. Mother never knew, but when a leather strap meets flesh in anger, the sound it makes is the collected whiplash of angels falling mid-ascent and the sting is God’s unholy wrath. It bends in the middle.

The boss shot me. The boss himself, ’cause I fucked up “Jungleland” once too often, but it wasn’t my fault, see: the air was rank and sour, the air was foul and wrong — I tried to block it with my fingers, but poison is ghostly, sweeping right through my bones like after Old Man Green switched the confectionary’s “open” sign to “closed” like he had the power to stop time. Hold time. Hold it. She’ll hold it for a nickel, awe for a dime. She should really be in moving pictures. She and Old Man Green in Swept the Day Away, coming soon from Paramount.  I can’t remember her name, but it was a bunch of letters in a particular order. She had a scar on her chin where she was slashed by a consonant. Vowels would never hurt you. I wish I had more myself. I gave up too many when I changed my name from Arthur Flegenheimer, but I had to, because who’d be afraid if someone said, “Arthur Flegenheimer’s gonna lay you flat”? It sounds like a tailor coming to size you for slacks.

“A boy has never wept nor dashed a thousand kim.” I forget who said that, but I’m sure it was me, in a hospital like this, as I lay dying from a bullet that pierced the delectable Chop House air and kissed me where it hurt but good. Adieu, gentlemen — I’m going where gats and molls smoke for eternity and all the rats prevail.

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