Scranton Lives Matter! Ch. 24


Untested presidential impersonator Timmy Kelly wallowed in visions of fame and fortune as he spent all day Friday tacking up notices throughout Biden’s old Green Ridge neighborhood, even dropping off flyers at the blah Times Tribune newspaper and at the one local television station with an office downtown.

Timmy Kelly flirted with the TV station receptionist.

Our Joey’s back in town tomorrow, he said.

Joey who?

The president.

Of what?

Of these United States.

Whatever, she said.

Thank God that hillbilly hater Earl released him, Gino and Harry Davies. Timmy felt like Patty Hearst. The next thing you know he’d be wearing a beret and going to the bank carrying a machine gun. Harry would figure out a way to deal with those white power bulletheads at Earl’s church.

Timmy had more important things to consider.

By 11:45, 11 people including a TV reporter and her cameraman gathered in front of Biden’s old homestead. Two white uniformed police officers (one beer-bellied man named Pat and one beer-bellied woman named Patty) stood on the sidewalk in front of the comfortable middle-class house in the still-lace-curtain Irish neighborhood.

Class marked the difference between Scranton’s lace curtain Irish and shanty Irish. Lace curtain descendants often attended privileged Prep high school and went on to Catholic colleges and universities. Too many became lawyers. Shanty Irish gravitated toward local politics, the police and fire departments or worked clerical jobs in health care or higher education. Some of their kids went to college, too. Too many became lawyers, as well, usually from lower-rung law schools. As a result, Scranton boasted more lawyers than feral cats, and so many diseased cats prowled city streets they even had their own non-profit sanctuary in Nay Aug Park where animal lovers gave them more thought than they did abused children.

Rather than calling himself a lapsed Catholic, Timmy Kelly called himself a collapsed Catholic, a faithless heathen unable to cope with the rules of the Church no matter how liberal they became. He hated altar girls, guitars in church and didn’t believe in God, anyway. He feared death like millions of Irishmen and their descendants but did nothing to change his drinking, smoking and eating habits that might extend his life expectancy beyond 61. Strokes, heart attacks and drunken driving accidents dominated as the leading causes of death among Scranton men his age.

Timmy Kelly stepped to the mic.

Ahem, he said.

A homeless guy carrying a quart of beer in a bag laughed out loud.

Thank you for having me, Timmy said.

The homeless guy laughed again.

Removing his aviator shades and flashing his best uncapped toothy smile, Timmy dug deep into character.

It’s good to be home, he said.

When you elected me president I promised we’d win the fight for the soul of America. For you poor old souls waiting for vaccinations, I have good news. My pal and former mayor Harry Davies has founded a local vaccine company to help the people of Scranton. I have personally approved his government contract. No needles needed. All you do is swallow a sugar cube.

Timmy Kelly pointed to Harry Davies standing beside a U-Haul truck parked beneath the new Joe Biden Way street sign. The mayor bounced around, raising his hands over his head like Rocky dancing on the Art Museum steps. Harry planned to make a killing by selling the hijacked truck load of real vaccine to a couple of Indians who ran illegal bingo games. As for his latest scam, he planned to hand out doses of Scranton tap water and call it the miracle cure. By the time anybody caught on, the worst of the virus would have ended and Harry could retire to Clearwater Beach, Florida, after applying for all the federal Medicare reimbursement money he could invent. He made Timmy Kelly a full partner in the venture but, of course, had no intention of cutting the goof in on any profits.

Timmy Kelly’s voice quivered with excitement.

Give the mayor your name before you leave and he’ll personally deliver your vaccine to your door first thing in the morning, he said.

The homeless guy cheered.

Make mine a six pack, he said.

The cops moved in his direction.

Timmy Kelly was on a roll.

It’s one thing to have the vaccine – which we didn’t have when we came into office, he said.

Of course that was another scripted direct quote right out of the real Joe Biden’s mouth that Timmy stayed up all night practicing. Of course it was a lie.

The homeless guy swayed and slurred a raucous question.

How’s your buddy Barack, Mr. President?

Timmy Kelly flashed his choppers.

Still mainstream African American, still articulate and bright and clean, still a storybook, man.

Quick on his feet and more impressed with himself than ever, Timmy Kelly pondered his future.

I can see it now, he thought, my name in lights. All I want is a nightclub audience for my act, a shot in the arm, so to speak, that will propel me to a gig or two at the Jersey shore and maybe one day a summer residency in a casino or nightclub in the Poconos. Forget about running for mayor. This new gig could last four years or however long it takes Biden to keel over from all the stress of having that Black colored woman vice president behind his back waiting to take over as soon as he chokes on a huge hunk of hoagie.

The TV crew packed up and left. People lost interest and straggled away. The homeless guy sat on the curb trying to play Hail to the Chief by blowing over the top of his beer bottle. Timmy spotted Mabel and Zerelda headed his way.

But who was that spooky-looking stalk of a man with them? Bushy sideburns stuck out from both sides of his head. Long sleeves of a red, yellow and purple tie-dyed t-shirt hung over his fingertips. Frayed bell bottoms on torn and worn blue jeans dragged on the street. His hair blew in the wind like unruly weeds that sprouted from the grounds of an abandoned insane asylum. With a goatskin wine canteen slung over his shoulder, he chewed gum and blew avocado-sized pink bubbles. Wearing a beanie cap with a spinning propeller on top, he walked like a man on a mission.

When they got close Timmy wrapped up his speech.

God bless America and God bless our troops, he said.

The freak spoke.

Dude, I hear you’re looking for somebody to help distribute the vaccine, Casey Weatherhogg said.

Petrified of Zerelda and Mabel, Timmy nodded toward Harry Davies.

Talk to the boss, he said.

Tell him Joe Biden sent you.