issue #3 . writers, ramblers, poets & outlaws (the characters)
THE LAST MANGO IN PARIS l CAPTAIN TONY TARRACINO
by Cricket Desmarais
I’m sitting in a world-famous bar built around a tree from which 77 criminals were hung, feeling a bit like a rebel drinking a Corona on a Tuesday afternoon. I’m not there to drink, per se, or to enjoy the live music I’ve heard for so many years emanating out of this little dark bar covered in business cards and bras, so much as I am to collect the real story about a man that’s so infamously famous, he’s been dubbed “the salt of Key West” by the New York Times.
And I’m a little nervous he may have forgotten about me. He is, after all, nearing 91. But then a car pulls up and I see a flash of white hair and feet decked out with house slippers behind the car door that is now slowly opening. Out steps the ultimate rebel himself — Captain Tony Tarracino — former bookie, shrimper, gun-runner, gravedigger and mayor, as well as father, husband and general legend of lust, love and lore.
We make our introductions and tuck ourselves into a corner to keep us free from distractions, where I quickly learn there is no such thing when it comes to this man. Captain Tony is like a rock star or a celebrity of sorts — people recognize him and want a little piece of who he is. He is more than happy to oblige. Within minutes, a small crowd has gathered nearby.
“My daughter,” he announces to the crowd, motioning to Josie, who has just returned from parking the car. “One of 13.”
They balk, kindly.
“Where you folks from?” he starts in. The bantering goes on for some time, and then he says “I’m gonna tell you a joke to make you happy.” He points to me and says, “I’m taking you home.”
“I gotta tell you girls,” he adds. “The advantage you have. Every woman has a little bit of whore in them.”
More laughter, except from me. Sure, I’m half-smiling, but my professional footing feels more than a bit shaky. I figure I better roll with it, though, or I’m in for a tough run with this legendary figure who clearly plays by his own set of rules. But this captain’s not insensitive, either; He sees my discomfort and quickly shifts his game. Later he’ll confess that, “in the end, if you want to win people, go to sex. It’s the bottom line.” …
brita v. brookes
alexis girard d’albissin
connie “c.j.” groth
eric vaughn holowacz
matt dukes jordan
brett c. millier
saul paul stewart
michael w. thomas