Chapter 6: The Immaculate Jagoffs of Pittsburgh
She hit him like Tatum
For the Foreword and first five chapters of the novel set during the last week of 1972 and written in “aggressive Pittsburghese,” click here. (To buy the book on Amazon, click here.) Now, as Chapter 6 begins, Clay abandons Scan in a historic Market Square bar, where a rowdy, post-Immaculate Reception crowd descends. Scan’s misery over leaving the game early and missing Franco’s incredible catch is tapered by a pretty young lady with a jagoff attitude…(Including the Pittsburghese-English glossary for non-yinzers)
SHE HIT IM LIKE TATUM
Scan had iz back ta tha tahl wahl, settin in a hardbackt ole chair like tha kind jagawffz let aht awn tha street ta save parkin spahts, hiz three Ahrns lahnt up ahn tha table; three lil brahn rivers. Wif tha crahd gettin rahdier an rahdier, everyone pushin at tha bar fer beer, pushin at each other, slappin five, screamin, chantin abaht goin ta tha Super Bowl, he tried ta tune it aht, glumly focusin awn tha ole pitcherz up awn tha wall. Tha top three: Babe Ruth, lookin ole an chubby an holdin three batz, maybe after he hit them las three aht Forbez Field; Clemente, lookin young but serious, Tshirt an shortz in tha lockerroom–sorry, Roberto, Scan mutteredt like a prayer, takin a sad drink; an a ole black-n-white a tha Point–wutz tha Point?, Scan pondert agin, takin another pull. An then below them there was three rowz a ole beauty queen picz–Scan membert sumfin abaht tha new owner winnin tha joint in a card game from tha ole owner who used ta run beauty contests.
HARK Valley/The Immaculate Jagoffs of Pittsburgh is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
He had drank at tha firs half, durin halftahm, tha secon half an a couple now–but he wuz too dejectedt ta be buzzed. He wuz deeply disgustedt wif himself, tragikly an impotently pisst at Clay…but not really, itz jus wut Clay does, always movin on ta tha nex thing even when tha firs thing wan’t over.
Tha place kep gettin thicker wif drunkz who kep bumpin inta Scanz table–but no one set in tha two empty chairs nex ta him–they wuz owl too hypet up, crackin Ahrns together so hard youd think theyd bust, huggin like long-lost brotherz, chantin FRANK…O…FRANK…O…–an someone blowin a bullhorn that wuz given Scan a headache. It seemt every third jagawff in tha place had a transistor radia, an every couple minutez theyd sshhh each other fer tha replay a Jack Flemin’s call: “Bradshaw running out of the pocket, looking for someone to throw to…fires it downfield…and there’s a collision….and it’s caught–caught out of the air!”
Then theyd owl go nutz again…
So Scan figgeredt aht he not only misst tha Stillerz best win ever, he misst mebbe tha greates play ever in tha whole history a playz–an every radia replay wuz another new round a humiliation fer Scan, who tired ta disappear inta iz varsity jacket, wishin it would suck him back inta high school so he could avoid a endless string a stupid, pointless, bad decisions of which tadee wuz jus tha lates an worstest–typical an yet so symbolic it wuz like a tattoo burnt inta iz arm. JAGAWFF
On tha fift er sixt er sevent cycle a radio replayz an screamz an bottlez crashin an bullhornz an chantz he felt iz arm bein tugged. Clay leant over tha table, screamin, “What a buncha jagawffs!”
“We’re tha jagawffs–leavin early,” Scan shaht back, lookin away.
“Who carez? They gaht lucky–an they’re jus gonna lose nex week, no onez beatin them Dolphinz–hey, geta awff my foot!”
Clay gave someone a elba fer room–then dug in his pawket an droppt iz keyz an a twenny on Scanz table. “I’m takin awff wif wutzername–take my car an herez some dough fer ya ta go blow,” Clay said, grinnin. He started away, then turnt back wif a serious face an yellt, “Keep tha trunk locked!”
Scan started ta say he dint need Clayz money an why would he mess wif tha trunk–but Clay wuz dartin in an aht a crackz in tha crahd like tha halfback he coulda been if he dint get shaht up; Clay made iz way dahn tha bar, swooped Terry NotHanratty awff er stool an wuz gone like smoke.
Scan chuggt a Ahrn an thought, wut tha frickin hell? Clay–ahwayz broke, ahwayz bummin drinkz an borrowin money, buyz that chick a beer an now this? He shook his head ta try ta make sense–but only gaht more confused, when iz gaze fell awn tha TV: wut tha hell wuz Frankie doin on tha News? He was grimacin an holdin a bag a ice ta iz head, sayin sumfin ta a reporter an pointin arahn; Scan coun’t hear wut he was sayin, but seen tha text:
LOT MANAGER ROBBED DURING MIRACLE GAME
Scan wuz tryna ta read Gliddyz chappt lipz ta see wut he wuz sayin but iz view gaht blawkt by a big white fur coat an he heardt a ladyz voice go,
“Can I set in one a them chairs–er iz this a private party?”
A frickin polka band made up a not one, not two but four accordionz had jus come in tha Fishhahs an startedt playin that Stillerz song that ahwayz give Scan a headache, an every tahm tha singer wif tha slicked-back black hair would go “Franco, Fran-coooo” tha place would go nutz–so he could barely hear her.
It dint matter–he wun’t gonna waste iz tahm. Scan shaht a glance at er an quickly lookt away, shakin his head as he tried ta find if Clay come back er one a his other jagawff friendz who wuz behind this.
“Wut?!” he said ta her wahl he lookt arahn.
She started ta repeat herself, than said, “Ah, frick it” as she squeezet her big fat fur coat against tha table, climbt over Scan an set dahn next ta him wif a big groan like she had just climbt Mt. Worshintin. She noticed her fat coat had knockt over one a hiz Ahrnz an spillt it awn him, an startedt wipin it awff. “I’m such a frickin clutz,” she said, an now Scan could hear her cause tha polka band had went aht ta go curse some other bar. “Aw, lookit I gaht your high school jacket owl messt up,” she said teasinly–an now Scan knew fer sher he wuz bein jaggt.
Wahl she wuz wipin awff iz jacket tha sleeve a her big fat fur coat knockt another a Scanz bottlez over. “Frick me!” she cried aht–then started laughin hysterikal, coverin her lil mahth ta try ta stop erself–but Scan could see her black eyez wuz still laughin, dancin in merriment.
“OK,” Scan sighedt, leanin ta her ear so she could hear–even wifaht tha accordion butcherz, it wuz still lahd as a Eyetalian weddin party. “Who sent ya over here?”
“My pimp,” she said, pushin him back so she could climb over im agin. “I’ll get ya one.”
Scanz eyez fallad her as she darted like a dark-haired white rabbit through tha crahd, knifin er way ta tha bar. In iz lahn a vision, he could see tha TV had tha late game awn, Cowboyz in Frisco. He wuz abaht ta look away but jus then they showt tha replay–Bradshawz long lahn drive throw ta Frenchy, who getz a-ni-alated by Tatum–then Francoz runnin dahn tha sidelahn–turrible camera work, but tha place goes nutz agin.
Crusht, Scan lookt away from tha TV an seen the fur coat lady at tha bar lookin back an rollin her eyez, smilin at im like they wuz in a secret joke. Scan shook his head but coun’t help but smile back.
Frickin Rita Moreno.
She had that same tiny face, dark sleepy eyez, cheekbonez that poppt when she smilet. This one wuz barely five foot tall even in black bootz wif high heelz. Scan had jus took Gail ta tha Playhawse artsy theater ta see Carnal Knowledge, which had been aht fer like a year afore it made dahn air; sher, Ann Margaret wuz hawt az melted still–but he went nutz fer Rita Moreno. This Picksburgh one wuz headin back over wif a funny look awn er face; she put tha two beerz dahn awn tha lil table, plantin them like ski polez an holdin on firmly as she climbt back over Scan–this tahm she stoppt halfway an planted her butt firm on iz lap, gigglin “Woops!” afore climbin over ta tha other seat.
Scan felt like he wuz ridin tha Thonderbolt aht Kennywood–his pulse wuz goin crazy an he felt dizzy an he din’t have no rail ta hold awnta. She was gigglin–but suddenly membert she wuz pisst an chewt her lip inta a frahn. “So whydja think a pimp sent me over–you think I’m a frickin hooker?” she demandet.
“No–I dint–you said that,” Scan protestet. “I just thought one a my friendz sent ya over as a jag.”
Someone had put The Jaggerz song awn tha jukebawx an now everyone wuz hahlin along “rap…rap…rap…call me tha rapper…” She rollt er dark eyez then grabbt Scanz jacket an pullt him closer. “Dominic thinks hez a big shit now hez awn tha radia,” she screamt in hiz ear.
“Who?” Scan yellt.
“I dated that punk til I caught im hittin awn my cousin whoze roommate introducet me ta him in tha firs place,” she said. “Dahnie Iris–puh-leaze!”
“Oh,” Scan said, tryna ta falla an feelin like tha Thunderbolt wuz hittin a hard bend an throwin im sidewayz.
He snuck another look arahn.
“So none a my friendz sent ya over?”
She slappt hiz face–but not hard, mawkinly.
“You think I cant pick aht guys ta talk ta awn my own? Anywayz–you look like some kid I usedta know.”
She teasinly ruffledt his long, chesnut brahn hair.
“You even gaht iz hippie hair.”
Scan felt like he wuz losin iz mind an drahnin at tha same tahm–he reachet fer iz beer an gulpt down some Ahrn, which felt like a breath a oxygen in a vacuum. He realizet he better say sumfin, so he leant over an yellt, “So–where ya live at?–where ya from, I mean,” he fumblt, feelin like a total dooch.
“I grew up dahn tha Rawkz but then I made it big an movet up Craftin,” she said, aht tha side a her mawf, her eyez dartin arahn tha bar. She took a drink. “That hellhole,” she added–then lookt at him an smiledt. “Wut abaht you?”
“I grew up in Mt. Leba-non,” he said, embarrasst as ushal for people ta think he wuz rich, which considerin his parentz wuz both teachers, he sure wan’t. “But now I gaht a place Uptahn.”
“Oh, movin yer way dahn in tha world,” she said, again wif a big teasin grin; her eyez were sparklin an Scan hadta look away.
“Ha ha,” he said, then started ramblin nervous: “Akshally, itz nice–tha Cricklewood Apartmentz, witcher new. Crickleworld we call it. My roommate Clayz dadz tha super–he gaht us a place fer free. We gahtta move soon but itz gaht a great view a dahntahn. But.”
She had been inchin closer but pushet away from im.
“Do I look that loose? One beer an yer tryna take me home,” she said, lookin like she wuz gonna cry. “Firs Dahnie Iris, now this…”
“Wait,” Scan said, reachin over ta her–then snappin his hand back self consious. “Sorry,” he spluttert, “I was just–I dint mean–”
She pullt a lil meer aht er purse an lookt at erself. “Relax–I’m jus jaggin. Anywayz, I look like I jus gaht beat wif a ugly stick…” She lickt er lipz, scruncht er curly dark hair an then slammt tha meer shut in disgust.
Scan knew azackly wut he should say–Don’t say that, yer tha most beautiful woman I ever seen…er at lease, Naw, yer pretty…but his mawf wuz frozedt shut.
Wuz he havin a stroke at twenny three?
“Look atcha,” she said, a look a concern awn her face. “Itz freezin in here–an you gaht sweat drippin awf yer forehead. You sick er wut?”
He forcedt imself ta smile an wipt tha sweat awf wif tha back a his hand. “Naw, I ahwayz do that in a crahwd. Lease I aint like my roommate Clay–it could be ten below an his pitz would be sweatin like a opent up fahr hydrant.”
“Yea–but he don’ stink. Itz weird. An iz hair never getz aht a place no matter if itz a hurricane. Hez ahwayz gettin girlz–I don’ know why hez such a jagawff. But.”
Shut up!!!–he tolt imself. Firs he coun’t talk at owl–now hez jabberin abaht Clay like a frickin idiot!
Then a flash caught iz lef eye….
Holy frickin skudda.
She had pullt awf er big fat fur coat an dumpt in ahn tha empty chair nex ta her–an now he seen two things: 1) a thin, perky body wif surprisinly big boobz poppin aht a her black sweater; an 2) a giant rawk awn er ring finger.
Why han’t he seen that afore?
Scan panicked–what am I doin drinkin wif a married lady?
Then, in jus tha nex momen, his shoulderz fell aht iz neck an he relaxt. This wan’t goin nowhere, he dint have ta figger aht how ta axe fer her phone number–let alone tryta get er back ta Crickleworld.
He dint have ta impress er at owl. She wuz married. Prolly jus killin tahm waitin fer her ole man ta pick er up. Owl tha pressure wuz awf, now. He felt like he could akshally talk normal.
He glancet at tha bar an seen a big, Eyetalian model lookin guy in a tight turtleneck an long dark wavy hair–he dint have sideburnz, weird–an dark, sneaky-lookin eyez shoot iz hand aht ta grab a beer bottle from a guy next ta him that had iz back ta tha bar, take a long drink an put it back.
“Lookit this guy up tha bar,” Scan said, nudgin wutever-her-name-wuz. She presst nex ta him, leanin over ta look but also sneakin a peak close at Scan.
“Tha slob passt aht wif slobber comin dahn iz beard? You gaht nice eyez, by the way.”
“Thanks–no, next ta him. Big dude in tha turtleneck–look, hez doin it agin.”
Tha model-lookin drink poacher grabbt tha same unattentive guyz beer, chuggt it an put it back.
She blurted aht a laugh–then snorted.
“Sorry–I’m a snorter,” she said. “Wut a sleazeball,” she said–not mentionin thatz tha guy she met after tha game wut brung er dahn this ole joint, only she ditched im after he said he wuz broke awn accahnt a he bet on Oaklan an needed ta bum twenny buckz awff er.
The guy whoze back wuz ta tha bar reacht behindt him, found iz beer wahl still jabberin ta iz friendz, put tha bottle ta his lipz–an lookt surprisedt it wuz empty. He jus turnt an waved ta Groggy ta order another un.
Scan an tha mystery lady laught; she buriedt er face in iz shoulder as if ta make er stop. Now tha rawk wuz right under Scanz chin, tauntin im.
“You smell good,” she cooed, lookin up at im.
“Thankz,” he said, then took a sipa Ahrn fer courage. “How long ya been marriedt?” he axed, as cashally as he could.
“Too frickin long,” she said, rippin her lef han away an tuckin it dahn her jeanz pawket. “Better question is how long am I gonna stay marriedt.”
“OK,” Scan said, feelin a lil cocky. “So how long you gonna stay marriedt?”
She pusht away an a dark look come over er face. “Until I can save up money fer a lawyer ta divorce that cheatin lyin turdface…I awready movedt aht.”
“Oh,” Scan said. “Sorry…”
“Don’ be–hez a total dooch but hez right abaht me bein' no good: as a goin away dinner I left im a hot dawg on a plate, no bun–jus two peaz on both sidez a tha weiner–hey, look!”
She hunchedt in close ta Scan agin when he pointedt–tha drink thief she come with an ditched wuz leanin pass tha firs guy whoze drink he stolet ta tha guy nex ta him, grabbt hiz beer an chuggt it; tha secon guy whoze drink he stole wuz lookin ta hiz lef but turnt an seen tha drink poacher put tha empty bottle back dahn. This guy–skinny, polka dot shirt wif a big fat collar, stringy black hair pullt across iz bald spot–smiledt boozily an leant ta his right acrosst tha guy next ta him ta say sumfin ta tha drink thief. Tha poacherz lef fist snappt aht like a cobra, smackin tha lil guy in tha forehead an sendin iz hair owl over tha place. The lil guy shriekt in surprise, put iz right hand ta his forehead wahl iz lef hand tried ta fix iz hair. Nex ta him, tha guy who originally had his beer swipedt suddenly figgert thinz aht an turnt ta iz right ta say sumfin–WHAM, another cobra strike lef jab from tha poacher, this one ta tha right cheek–smashin tha poor schlubz glasses.
Groggy caught wut wuz happenin, grabbt a lead pipe from under tha bar an smackt it menancinly awn tha still bar, glarin at tha poachin model lookin guy. Tha drink poacher winkt at tha big pitcher a Rocky Marciano behint tha bar, gaht in a boxerz stance an calmly startedt punchin everyone arahn him, lef jabz an right crossez sendin people flyin back; Gregorious swung tha pipe at iz head an woulda brained im, but tha poacher bobbedt an weavedt an tha pipe barely missed im an he jus smilet an grabbt another drink an puncht someone else.
“Letz get ahta here,” the lady said, grabbin er coat wif er lef hand an Scanz hand wif er right. Scan gaht up an shovt tha table ta make room fer her–a couple mill hunkz hahlt like coyotez an chargedt headz dahn tawardtz tha poacher, which opent up a lane Scant went fer, pullin her along.
Ahtside, she busted up laughin, clingin ta Scan. “Wherez yer car?” she managed ta axe.
“Right here,” he said, pointin ta Clayz Nova.
“Kin I bum a ride?”
Scan nodded, leadin her away from tha passenger door she went fer ta tha driverz. “Sorry,” he said. “That doorz busted–ya gotta climb over.”
He unlockedt an opent tha door; she started ta get in, then pullt him ta her, an kisst im; he half-resisted, more in shawk, than kisst back.
“I been wantin ta do that owl night,” she said, then smiledt an gaht in, climbin over ta tha passenger bucket seat.
It wuz only half-passt 5 but pitch dark–second-shortes day a tha year; even though it wuz only abaht thirty two, thirty three dagreez, Scanz teeth wuz chatterin on accahnt a nervez as he gaht in tha Nova an started it up, grippin tha wheel an hopin tha vibrationz hid iz shakin handz.
“I’m Billy,” he said, gulpin an lookin straight ahead. “Wutz yer name?”
“Lore,” she said.
“Nice name,” he said.
“Holy crap,” she said. “Yer the firs person that dint say ‘Lori?’ or ‘Laura?’ or ‘Lore whut?’ Or,” she said, wif a short, disgustedt snort-laugh, “Lore tha whore–like tha kidz at school usedta say. Or my wonderful husban.”
Scan staredt ahead, slowly pullin aht tha nob ta turn awn tha lights–which illuminated snowflakez startin ta fall. He put it in neutral an turnt awn tha heat, iz teeth still chatterin an now his shoulderz shiverin like crazy, he gulpt, lickt hiz lipz ta be able ta talk.
“Where do you wanna go, Lore?” he axed softly.
She climbt over tha stick shift an emergency brake an kisst im again, then buried her face in iz right shoulder, right where tha goldt a iz varsity jacket sleevez met tha black front part. Clayz Nillson Schmillson 8 track wuz playin; at lease tha damn Coconut song wuz over, now it wuz sumfin wif tha crazy guy wailin We can make each other happy….
“Cricklewood,” she said in a whisper.
“OK,” he said, feelin like iz head wuz shakin like iz Clemente bobblehead doll az he put awn tha lef turn signal, put tha clutch dahn an shifted inta first an slowly started easin aht tha space, her still snugglt up iz shoulder. He wuz lookin over iz lef shoulder blind spaht ta make sure no one wuz comin when–THUD!
Scan slammt awn tha brakes an jerkt iz head forward–seein a bearded guy wif a crazy red Afro poppin aht a Stillerz cap an no shirt awn bangin awn tha hood a tha Nova.
“Innerference!” tha guy yellt. “Innerference!”
He pickt up a football that had hit tha Novaz winshield an fell ta tha cobblestone street an ran away from tha car back where he an three a hiz buddiez wuz tossin tha ball arahn; Market Square, which was alsa cobblestonez, wuz packed wif people drinkin, screamin, yellin at carz an genrally jaggin arahn.
Scan jammin on tha brakes made tha 8 track pop aht–tha radia come on. “Clay tha liar,” Scan thought ta himself wif a grimace. “Some lady jus called me awff tha air,” Myron wuz sayin, gibberin a hunred mallz a ahr as ushal. “She said her husband is callin it Tha Immaculate Reception after Tha Immaculate Conception! I aint Catlic so I said I hope thatz kosher ta say–she said go ahead–her ole man cleared it wif tha priest! So yoi, double an triple yoi!”
Scan pusht tha 8 track back in; it dint seem right, hearin Cope now.
Lore had been throwed back in tha passenger seat by Scanz hard brake. She lookt at tha scene in tha Square an shook er head. As Scan slowly pullt away, they heard tha onez tossin tha football arguin over who getz ta be Franco. “I keep have ta bein Frenchy!” one hahlt aht. “My head hurtz!”
Lore buried her face in Scanz right shoulder agin.
“I’m so sick a these frickin Picksburgh jagawffs,” she moanedt.
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