By Sean Corcoran, Potpourri
I found him slumped in the corner of a teamsters bar in the southwest corner of Brooklyn, a crumpled ball of one-dollar bills in his hand and several coffee stained OTB tickets protruding from his jacket pocket. The place smelled of stale sweat and the pungent aroma of Pall Malls, a sickly sweet mixture that attacked and then numbed the olfactory senses within minutes. An hour earlier, this hirsute character had been noodling his way towards the decolletage of an unwilling patron, spilling his cheap scotch down the backleg of her pants. He was one of the many monsters that appeared here at 6 every night, but he was also one of the best journalists in New York City, a spot-on reporter with ink stained fingertips, unwashed hair, and an unwavering dedication to his craft. Having never met Teddy Graham, I kept my distance, and saddled up to the bar for a Bud and a shot of some lower shelf gut-rot.
I read the Daily News as I waited for my contact. I was a relative unknown in journalism, staking my fledgling reputation on some union nobody who was selling a story on corrupt HUD deals in Brooklyn. So far, he wasn’t showing. As I turned on my stool to depart, I spotted Teddy rising from his alcohol induced slumber, a disoriented look covering his ashen face. He soon started towards the bar, gaining more traction and stability with each step. In a matter of moments his left paw was draped around my neck as he ordered 2 Buds and 2 shots of whiskey. He turned to me with his drink raised and said “From one journalist to another.”
The remaining particulars of that night are irrelevant, but it began a lifelong friendship and writing partnership between Teddy and me. However, I do remember some choice bits of wisdom Teddy imparted before he stormed out into the black night:
“I enjoy the company of a woman, but my work prohibits a proper courting period; therefore, I enlist the aid of a select class of woman. Escorts you say? No friend, I indulge in my earthly pleasures with the proletariat, the streetwalkers. Many a night I’ve left this bar, only to return through a side entrance to have my genitals scrubbed over a wash bin in the water closet. Bowlegged and drunk, the light scent of borax wafting through the air, I lead my lady to an abandoned car-lot, so we can engage in the most primordial of acts. I oft find myself shouting non-sequiturs into the night as we consummate our arrangement, the disinterested look on her face driving me faster. These are my people I proclaim as I climax next to an old, abandoned Volkswagen. And rather quickly, my temporary hire flees into the abyss, looking for new kicks, new johns, and new triumphs. I call that a Tuesday.”