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The bobby gold stories, p.1
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       The Bobby Gold Stories, p.1

           Anthony Bourdain
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The Bobby Gold Stories




  Kitchen Confidential

  A Cook's Tour

  Typhoid Mary


  Bone in the Throat

  Gone Bamboo






  Copyright © 2002 by Anthony Bourdain

  First published in Great Britain in 2002 by Canongate Crime, an

  imprint of Canongate Books Ltd.

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or

  reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission

  from the publisher except in the case of brief quotations

  embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information address

  Bloomsbury, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010

  Published by Bloomsbury, New York and London

  Distributed to the trade by Holtzbrinck Publishers

  First published in hardcover in the U.S. by Bloomsbury in 2003

  This paperback edition published in 2004

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Bourdain, Anthony.

  [Bobby Gold]

  The Bobby Gold Stories / Anthony Bourdain - 1st U.S. ed.

  p. cm.

  Originally published as Bobby Gold. London: Canongate Crime, 2002.

  eISBN: 978-1-59691-722-4

  1. Gangsters—Fiction. 2. Restaurants—Fiction. 3. Women cooks—Fiction. I. Title.

  PS3551.0838B63 2003




  Typeset by Palimpsest Book Production Limited,

  Polmont, Stirlingshire, Scotland

  Printed in the United States of America by

  R. R. Donnelley & Sons, Harrisonburg, Virginia

  To Nancy


  Bobby in Color

  Bobby at Work

  Bobby the Diplomat

  Bobby Eats Out

  Bobby in Love

  Bobby Gets Jilted

  Bobby Gets Blue

  Bobby at the Beach

  Bobby Gets Squeezed

  Bobby's Not Here

  Bobby Takes It on the Lam

  Bobby Gone


  Bobby Gold at twenty-one, in a red-and-white Dead Boys T-shirt, blue jeans, high-top Nikes and handcuffs, bent over the hood of the State Police cruiser, arms behind his back, wished he was anywhere but here. The beach would be nice, he thought, as the trooper to his right read him his rights. The beach would be great. Cheek pressed hard against the hot metal of the car's hood, Bobby wondered: if he held his head just right —so that his ear cupped against the blue-and-white car — would he be able to hear the ocean?

  The rented Chevrolet Caprice sat on the shoulder, between two cruisers, bathed in flashing red and blue lights. Styx had come on the radio just as they'd pulled him over. He had been happily listening to "Monkey Man" by the Stones, singing along, in fact, volume all the way up when he'd seen the lights in his rear-view mirror, and in the excitement and confusion of the moment, had neglected to turn the radio off. Now Styx was playing on the radio, always and forever the soundtrack to any future memories of this ugly event. Damn, thought Bobby.

  Bobby wondered how the rental company dealt with a situation like this. Would he be charged for the extra days that the car was held for evidence? Who would come and pick it up?

  What if the cops tore the car apart? This was a worst-case scenario as there were three kilos of cocaine hidden inside the spare tire - and another two kilos behind the seats. Would the guy from Avis take a taxi to the police impound lot, and then drive the car away — or would another employee drive him over, then follow in convoy? As the cops pulled him upright by his hair and walked him over to the rear of one of the cruisers, held his head as they pushed him into the back seat, Bobby found himself curiously detached from events around him.

  He would not be sleeping with Lisa tonight —that was for sure. He wouldn't be lying in the bed they shared in the Stimson Dormitory, listening to Brian Eno and sniffing Merck cocaine and smoking hydro. Lisa would not, later, when the quaaludes kicked in, look him in the eyes and turn up the corner of her mouth in a dreamy smile while she sucked his cock. Not tonight. Tonight he was going to jail.

  His parents, the already disappointed-in-their-son Dr. and Mrs. Sherman Goldstein, were not going to be happy about this. The words "This is the last time —" echoed in Bobby's head as he vaguely remembered some previous outrages he'd committed: the time he'd passed out in his parents' bed with a checkout clerk from the Pathmark, a fully packed bong still in one hand. The time he'd wrecked their car — sinking it into a water hazard on the green of the local country club. The time he'd been expelled from Horace Mann. The time he'd been expelled from the Englewood School for Boys. The shoplifting misunderstanding . . . He hoped that if his parents — after wailing and bemoaning the miserable fate that brought such a disgrace of a son into the world — couldn't do anything to help him, maybe Eddie could. Eddie could fix anything. He'd been in trouble his whole life — and yet he'd never spent a night in jail. Eddie, Bobby hoped, would know what to do.

  Bobby Gold in an orange jumpsuit, handcuffs and leg irons shuffled into the courthouse and sat down next to his parents' attorney. Things did not look good. Eddie had not been any help. He wasn't even in court today. Bobby examined the jurors' faces, not liking what he saw.

  The old bat at the end, juror number twelve, was shaking her head disapprovingly. She had a daughter in college, Bobby recalled from voir dire. She was thinking about all that coke - all that pharmaceutical-grade cocaine, headed in Bobby's car to supply college kids. Might as well have been her daughter's college — to get her daughter hooked, turn her daughter into a coke-sniffing, dangerously underweight coke-whore, tossing off scabby drunks at some imagined truck stop for her fix. Juror number four didn't look too friendly to Bobby's cause either — a retired jarhead with two sons in the service. With that haircut, he was a definite guilty vote. Things did not look good.

  When they gave him ten years, Bobby was not surprised.

  Bobby Gold in an orange jumpsuit stood quietly in line for tuna noodle casserole, coleslaw and lime jello. The other convicts on line in front of him and behind were thick-necked, over-muscled gladiators compared to the scrawny, pencil-necked Bobby. He'd have to exercise — and fast. He'd have to get big, bulk up, get tough. Tomorrow he'd get a tattoo. That would be a start. Something badass. He had to get big. It was going to take a lot of lime Jell-O.

  He was adding muscle. He read the muscle magazines after his cell-mate was done with them. He went to the prison library and read up on anatomy, nerve clusters, bones, pressure points, martial arts. He'd been — supposedly — pre-med in school, so he could order books from outside. He knew what to look for.

  Bobby Gold in a towel in the communal shower asked his buddy LT how to get the other convicts off his back. Two cholos from the Mexican gang had tried to jump him earlier in the week, and yesterday, one of the Muslims, a whippet-thin ex-junkie who called himself Andre, had taken a parker roll right off of Bobby's tray. What to do?

  "You'll have to kill somebody, little brother," said LT, rinsing the shampoo from his eyes.

  "Who?" asked Bobby. "Who should I kill?"

  "Anybody'll do," said LT.

  Bobby Gold on a gurney with squeaky wheels, two knuckles pushed all the way back to his wrist, was hurried to the prison infirmary in restraints.

  His nose was broken, ribs cracked, spleen ruptured. There was a three-inch puncture wound below h
is right shoulder where air whistled from a lung. A chunk of Andre's flesh was still stuck between his molars from when Bobby took a bite out of his cheek. Bobby felt a little bad picking Andre, but he hadn't been big enough yet to tussle with the other convicts. And Andre had asked for it. Bobby was watching One Life to Live in the dayroom — and fucking Andre had changed the channel to the fucking Jeffersons. Hadn't even asked if anyone minded. Bobby had looked over at LT and LT had smiled and shrugged.

  He didn't think he'd killed the smaller man, though he'd certainly tried everything he could. After Bobby had kicked him in the balls from behind, he'd kneed him in the head, stepped on his neck and then broken both his own hands whaling on Andre's face. When Andre's buddy shanked him from behind with a sharpened toothbrush, he ignored it . . . When Andre grabbed him, clarity bit him hard until he let go. He kept hitting him until Andre's eye went sideways in its socket and stayed that way. Bobby kept hitting him until the guards came and pulled him off. Just like LT had said he should do.

  From now on, thought Bobby, he'd have as many fucking parker rolls as he wanted.

  Then he passed out.

  Bobby Gold, in a red-and-white Dead Boys T-shirt, blue jeans, and high-top Nikes, stepped through the high electrified fence at the perimeter of the prison. It was February, and he was freezing. He looked around to see if anyone had come to meet him, but there was no one. Lisa hadn't written him, so she sure as hell wasn't coming. His parents had turned their backs on him forever.

  Where was Eddie?


  Bobby Gold, six foot four and dripping wet, squeezed past an outgoing delivery of Norwegian salmon and stood motionless, smelling of soggy leather, in the cramped front room of Jay Bee Seafood Company, taking up space. Men in galoshes, leather weight-belts and insulated vests jockeyed heavily loaded hand-trucks around him. No one asked him to move.

  Everybody smoked — their wet cigarettes held in gloved hands with the tips cut down. Men ticked off items on crumpled invoices with pencil stubs, stacked leaking crates of flounder, mussels, cod, squid, and lobster, swept crushed ice into melting piles on the waterlogged wooden floor. At an ancient desk by the front window, a fat man with a pen behind his ear was making conciliatory noises into the phone, blowing smoke.

  "Yeah . . . yeah . . . we'll take it back. Yeah . . . I know . . . the dispatcher missed it. Whaddya want me to do? What can I say? I'll send you another piece — no problem. Yeah . . . right away . . . center-cut. I got it. Right . . . right. It's leaving right now."

  When he hung up, the fat man called back to somebody in the rear. "Send twenny pounds of c.c. sword up to Sullivan's! And bring back what he's got!" Then he looked up, noticed the large figure in the fingertip-length black leather jacket, black pullover, black denim pants and black cowboy boots, obstructing commerce in his loading area.

  "Yo! . . . Johnny Cash! Can I help you with something?"

  "I come from Eddie," said Bobby Gold, his voice flat, no expression on his face.

  The fat man at the desk rolled his eyes, took a deep hit on a bent Pall Mall and jerked a thumb towards the rear. "He's in the back office."

  Bobby pushed aside long plastic curtains that kept the cold from escaping a cavernous, refrigerated work area. Salsa music was blaring from a portable radio at one of six long worktables where more men in long white coats smeared with fish blood packed seafood into crates and covered it with ice. But the dominant sound here was a relentless droning from the giant compressors that kept the room chilled down to a frosty thirty-eight degrees. They were gutting red snappers around a central floor drain, and there were fish scales everywhere — like snowflakes in the workers' hair, clinging to their knives, on their clothing. Black and purple entrails were being pulled from the fishes' underbellies, then tossed carelessly into fifty-five-gallon slop buckets. Against one wall, a triple stacked row of grouper seemed to follow Bobby's progress across the room with clear, shiny eyes, their bodies still twisted with rigor.

  Another room: white tile, with a bored-looking old man working a hose while another picked over littleneck clams and packed them into burlap. Bobby's boot crushed a clam shell as he swept through a second set of plastic curtains and into the rear offices. Two bull-necked women with door-knocker-sized earrings and bad hair sat talking on phones by a prehistoric safe, a sleeping Rottweiler between them. Bobby opened Jerry Moss's door without knocking and went inside.

  "Oh, shit," said Jerry, a sun-freckled old man, hunched over a pile of price quotes and bills of lading.

  "Hi, Jer'," said Bobby, sad already. The old man looked particularly tired and weak today — as if a good wind could blow him over. Bobby noticed with unhappiness the bottle of Maalox on Jerry's crowded desk, the dusty picture frame with Jerry's immediate family clustered around a fireplace, the half-eaten brisket sandwich peeking out from its wax paper wrapping.

  "Is it that time again?" said Jerry, feigning surprise.

  "I'm afraid so," said Bobby.

  Jerry sat back in his cracked leather swivel chair and sighed. "So I guess this means I gotta take a beating . . . Is that right, Bobby? I gotta take a beating?"

  Bobby just nodded, regretting everything that got him here and everything that was going to happen. He felt as trapped as the old man. It had been like that lately — the feeling bad part. Even with the tough guys, the mouthy, think-they're-smart assholes who he'd straightened up in recent weeks — the big-shouldered power-lifters who'd thought they didn't have to pay because of their hulk-sized chests and their bad attitudes - Bobby no longer took pleasure in proving otherwise. The technical satisfactions of a job well and precisely done just didn't cut it anymore — replaced by a growing sense of . . . shame — a tightening in the stomach.

  Jerry Moss was sixty-two years old. He'd had, as Bobby well knew, two heart attacks in the past year, and a recent bypass operation. His last trip to Florida, the old man had come back with a small melanoma on the left cheek which had had to be surgically excised. And he was suffering as well from conjunctivitis, shingles and a spastic colon. He was falling apart by himself.

  "How bad does it have to be?" asked Jerry, shifting uncomfortably in his chair.

  "It's got to be an arm — at least," said Bobby, controlling his voice. Any hint of reluctance now would give the old man hope — and there wasn't any. "That's what he said. An arm. And, of course, the face. You know how that is . . . There's gotta be something for show."

  The old man winced and shook his head, studying his desk top. "That's just fucking great . . . I guess it don't matter I got the money now, does it? I mean . . . shit, Bobby - he knows I'm gonna pay . . ."

  "He knows that, Jerry."

  "I mean . . . Bobby . . . Boobie . . . I got the money right here. I can pay now, for fuck's sake. This second. It's right there in the safe."

  "Jerry . . . he doesn't care," said Bobby, sleepwalking through this part, trying to think about a faraway beach, running an advertising jingle through his head, wanting to get it over with. "It's not about that and you know it. I'm not here to collect. You're late. That's the point. That he had to ask."

  "An arm . . . " mulled Jerry. "Shit!" He looked pensively down at his body, as if taking inventory. "That's just great . . . That's just . . ." He struggled for a word . . . came up with ". . . boffo."

  "What can I say?" said Bobby, shrugging.

  "You could say, 'Forget it,'" said Jerry, more exasperated than frightened. "You could say, 'What the fuck' and walk away from it . . . That would be a nice fucking thing to say . . ."

  "Never happen," said Bobby. "Not today." He lit a cigarette and sat down across from Jerry. He could see the fear starting to come on, welling up visibly now behind the old man's glasses, sweat forming on Jerry's upper lip as the memory of the last time Eddie had had to send him a message began to come back.

  That time had been awful, Bobby knew. He'd been on vacation and Eddie had sent two oversized kids from Arthur Avenue to do the job, and predictably, things had got
ten out of hand. They'd whaled the shit out of Jerry for fifteen minutes —beaten him within an inch of his life. If memory served, they'd broken both of the old man's legs, his collar-bone, forearm, nose and instep — then smashed his teeth so badly he'd had to have them all replaced. He now wore complete upper and lower plates — they made him whistle slightly when he spoke.

  "How many times has it been now, Jerry?" asked Bobby — though he knew the answer. "I mean .. . esus . . .

  "This'll make four," replied Jerry, almost defiantly, poking his chin out slightly — a bit of business that didn't quite make it as bravado.

  "It's pathetic . . . Really. You're not a young man . . . Why the fuck you gotta be such a fucking donkey?"

  Jerry just smiled weakly and shrugged his shoulders — looked out the dirt-streaked window at the rain coming down.

  "Nobody likes this, Jerry," said Bobby. "I certainly don't like it. You think I like this shit? Coming here?"

  "Oh yeah?" barked the old man, raising his voice so it cracked slightly. "Those two retards he sent over the last time? They liked it, Bobby . . . they liked it fine! Those two behemoths? They had a great fucking time, those two . . . I swear to God . .. the one kid? He's dancing on my fucking stomach? Guy's getting a fucking boner!! Oh yeah . . . Those two . . . they was all over me like a bunch a drunken Cossacks. They fucked me up good those two. Real good . . . They were having themselves a real good fucking time busting me up like a day-old fucking biscuit."

  Jerry had gone pale recalling the incident. He tried quickly to buck himself up. "Hey . . . I should look at the bright side, right? At least he sent you this time. I should be grateful. I should be relieved. Am I right or what?"

  "I brought some pills," said Bobby, reaching into his wet leather jacket, coming out with a bottle of Demerol. "Take three now. I'll wait . . . I'll wait around for them to kick in, okay? Then it won't hurt so bad . . . That's the best I can do for you, Jerry. The pills . . . they help a lot." He passed the bottle over to Jerry, watched as the old man tilted his head back and dry-swallowed three. He was used to taking medication.

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