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by Ron Cruger
For thirty years he drank two to three dozen cans of beer a day. He
a large cooler, fill it with ice and beer and place
it on the floor in
the back seat of his car and drive and drink. He would stop
to do his only job of the past twenty years – shoplifting.
got into fist fights, gambled, swore consistently, preyed on women and
was not above lying or manipulating acquaintances,
get cash to support his vices.
His mother was a lifelong alcoholic. He never
laid eyes on his father.
The California court authorities hunted him for
defying an order to pay child support. He evaded the authorities for
five years by
running from state to state, lying and scheming
from one con to another. He married either six or seven women during
the five years
(he couldn’t remember the exact total). Finally,
the law enforcement officials found Dick during one of his return
visits to California
and arrested him for failure to pay child support
to his two children from an early marriage. He served two years of a
sentence. During his prison term he claimed to have
become a “born again Christian.” From the day he was released Dick
spoke of any faith or religion.
Once, I was having breakfast with Dick (his real name) in a Honolulu
a waitress approached a table near ours.
Dick slouched down and placed the menu in front of his face, hiding.
When the waitress turned
towards the kitchen Dick slid out of
the booth and quickly left the restaurant, nervously waving me to
follow him. Outside, I asked
him what was that all about. He answered,
“I think I married that waitress in Ohio a few years ago.” He couldn’t
remember her name.
Dick was six feet, one inch tall and during the last thirty years of
his life weighed more than 300 pounds. He wasn’t
handsome man and carrying that weight he had a tendency to perspire
He married a woman in
Hawaii and a few months after the ceremony she
did something that irked him. A week after the incident that
ticked him off she left
Hawaii to visit her mother in Los Angeles.
Dick realized he could accomplish two things during her absence.
One, he could skip out
on her and secondly he could get some needed
cash, so he advertised a garage sale for the weekend and he sold
everything in the house,
including his wife’s wigs, jewelry and every
piece of furniture and clothing in the house. He skipped town
and when his wife returned
she found a bare house totally cleaned out.
years later he returned to Honolulu and found a job managing a porno
movie and magazine rental shop. Feeling lucky, Dick bet $1000
with a bookie on the outcome of the Super Bowl. Dick lost the bet,
didn’t have the $1000 so when the bookie sent an enforcer to
collect the $1000 from Dick he told him he would pay him in the
afternoon. By 3 p.m. Dick was on a plane to San Francisco.
Dick waited three years before returning to Honolulu, where
contacted me and asked me to lunch the next day. We met at the place
of his choice – the Hard Rock Café. Dick told me stories,
lies, of the past three years. Our waitress was no older than
19. Dick, by now in his middle 50’s and carrying 300 plus
sweating rivers. He flirted with the young waitress through
our entire lunch. When we were done I grabbed the check,
payed it and
we parted. The next day Dick phoned me to tell me he had
picked up the young waitress and spent the night with her.
Dick and I first
met when we were sophomores in high school. Dick played football and I
played baseball. Dick was underage,
but he still bought me
my first bottle of beer. We sat in the darkened bleachers of our high
school football field, just the two
of us, and got drunk together.
I got sick to my stomach after two bottles. Dick continued drinking
and laughed as I wretched. That
was the last time I drank with
Dick’s last employment before he took up shoplifting full
was as a counter
man at one of Honolulu’s low priced car rental firms.
Dick told me of how he “stole the company blind.” He boasted
that he even pocketed
the coins in the Coke machine twice a week.
In January, 1998 Dick phoned me from Los Angeles. “Cruger, I got
the big C,” he said
in his boisterous voice. The same tone as if he
had won the lottery. He told me he had bladder cancer and the
doctors didn’t give
him long to live. We stayed in touch every day on
the phone. I sent him whatever funds I could spare.
In August Dick
phoned me and asked, “Cruger, if I flew to Maui would
you meet me there and stand up for me? I want to marry my girlfriend,
so she can legally have my life insurance and Social Security
funds when I die.” He told me, “ I love her and she’s been good
me.” I told him, “Of course – I’ll be there.”
I met him and Aimee at their
hotel on Maui. Dick appeared to have lost
150 pounds, his skin was a grayish tone and he couldn’t walk without assistance.
The three of us walked towards a cliff
overlooking the sparkling
Pacific. The water appeared to have diamonds in it. Dick was exhausted
by the time we joined the minister.
With our backs to the ocean the
minister began the ceremony. I was standing to Dick’s left when
I felt his hand reach out for mine.
He wrapped his bony hand around
mine and squeezed. Just before the minister finished Dick leaned
towards me and whispered, “I’m scared.”
Back at their hotel, Aimee, Dick and
I raised glasses of champagne and toasted their marriage. Dick was
worn out. I hugged
my friend of almost 50-years and said, “Aloha.”
That same afternoon I flew back to Honolulu.
That was the last time I
He died September 15, 1998. He was 63 years old.
There’s not a day goes by
that I don’t think of him.
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