Wednesday, March 25, 2009
The Peppermint Lounge
The Peppermint Lounge
By Richard E. Noble
I was sitting at our cottage on Old Town Way when Tommy Kabildis came banging in the door. “Nobes, you’ve got to help me. Mel threw me out of the Peppermint Lounge.”
“How am I going to help you? I don’t even know Mel.”
“You’re going to be my lawyer.”
“Yeah, Mel threw me out and I told him that I had a friend who was studying to be a lawyer at Harvard and I was going to bring him back with me.”
“You have a friend that goes to Harvard?”
This was all very flattering, I thought. Kibbi not only thought that I could be a lawyer but that I could get into Harvard. Wow! I have a big ego, but Harvard and a lawyer? The only thing I knew about the law was that you should avoid getting caught. But this whole thing sounded interesting to me.
“Okay, I’m your Harvard lawyer. What do you want me to do?”
“I want you to get me back into the Peppermint Lounge.”
Entrance to the Peppermint Lounge was important to certain types of individuals in those days. It was a very busy nightclub at Salisbury Beach. It was rock and roll and blues. I was strictly jazz. I went to the Peppermint Lounge occasionally but not often. I do remember seeing Fats Domino in the parking lot by the entrance one night. He was sitting in a big car just beside the entrance door. He was swigging on a pint of Southern Comfort. There was a crowd of teenagers standing around his car. I had no idea who the fat man was. Somebody said, “That’s Fats Domino.” I said, “Well, you are right there. He sure is.”
The Peppermint Lounge was just down a bit from the Salisbury Police Station and the public restrooms. It had a large dirt parking lot. It was also across the road from the roller coaster. Prior to being called the Peppermint Lounge it was Jenney’s. A fellow named Mack Jenney or Mac Jenney owned it. For my friend Kibbi to be banned from this place this early in the season was a catastrophe. He was desperate. So I agreed to take his case.
As we walked down to the Peppermint Lounge Tom briefed me. I remember that I was wearing a pair of Bermuda shorts. Everybody was wearing Bermuda shorts in those days. In addition I was wearing my multi-colored Hawaiian Eye sport shirt and a pair of sandals. I kept asking myself if a Harvard lawyer would be dressed in this fashion. Why not? Harvard Lawyers must go to Salisbury Beach also.
Mel managed the Lounge. He was a short, fat, semi-bald guy who was always chewing a big cigar. He was an intimidating little fellow - picture Danny DiVito from Taxi and My Cousin Vinnie.
The case: Mel was going into the men’s room as Kibbi was coming out. Upon entering the men’s room Mel noticed that the paper towel dispenser had been ripped from the wall. He turned around immediately; grabbed my buddy, Kibbi, and called one of his bouncers. Kibbi was then escorted to the exit and thrown bodily out onto the sidewalk.
My first question as a lawyer was, “Did you rip the paper towel dispenser from the wall, Tom?”
“Not exactly is not a good answer, Tom. There are only two correct answers to my question - yes I did or no I didn’t.”
“Listen Nobes, the thing was hanging there by one screw. I tried to pull a paper towel out of it and the damn thing falls off the wall. It could have happened to anybody. I just happened to be the wrong guy, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.”
Humm! This was a Henry Fonda movie, wasn’t it?
Man, my first case as a Harvard Lawyer and I have to get an obvious criminal. What would F. Lee Bailey do? I figure, I’ll have to do as real lawyers do - I’ll baffle them with bologney.
I waited on the sidewalk while Kibbi tried to get back inside the club. The bouncer recognized him and wouldn’t let him in. Kibbi demanded that the bouncer go and get Mel to come out and talk to his lawyer.
I figured that this little game was all over. Mel wasn’t going to come out and talk to some guy in Bermuda shorts and sporting a multi-colored Hawaiian Eye shirt - the colors were pastels – pink, yellow, pale blue and turquoise.
But there he was.
I said, “You have accused my client here, Mr. Thomas Kabildis, of engaging in malicious, criminally destructive behavior.”
“I don’t have to talk to you,” Mel said agitatedly while nervously attempting to eat his stubby cigar.
“Well, you can talk to me now, or you can talk to me in a court of law.”
I couldn’t believe it. We actually had Mel scared. Maybe I could really be a Harvard lawyer. It could happen!
Mel continued. “This guy ripped my towel machine off the wall. He has to pay for it.”
“Did you see my client rip the towel machine off the wall?”
“No I didn’t exactly see him, but he was the only one in there and the machine was laying on the bathroom floor.”
“Really? You have nineteen million half drunk teenagers running in and out of your lavatory (note the use of the word lavatory), and just because you see my client leaving the room when you are entering, you accuse him of the crime? You have got to be making a joke.
“Tom, take a good look at this place because when I get done with this guy, it is all going to belong to you. This is deformation of character. This is slander. This is identitae fraud-ulente. People have collected millions on cases like this. This type of case was decided centuries ago. I think the first such case was at Nuremberg in 1346. It is what they call no low expropriente. We got this guy right where we want him. Let’s go. We’ll be seeing you in court, sir.”
“Wait a minute, wait a minute. Listen I don’t know all this Latin stuff and I don’t want no court and legal problems. I’ll let this guy back in this one last time but if I catch him doing anything he’s going to be out of here for good.”
“What do you think, Tom?”
“That’s it? This guy accuses me of all these lies and I don’t get anything? I should get something for being treated like this.”
I looked at Mel. He was fidgeting and his cigar stub was bouncing every which way.
“Five free drinks,” I said to Mel. He stared, pensively.
“One free drink,” Mel countered.
“Three,” I compromised.
“Two free drinks and that’s my last offer.”
“What do you say Kibbi?”
As Mel and Kibbi went strolling back inside and Kibbi joyfully bellied up to the bar I thought, Wow, I won my first case as a Harvard lawyer. Of course, it was pro-bono but a win is a win.
Richard E. Noble was raised in Lawrence, Mass and is now a freelance writer. He has published five books. Two of them have Lawrence as their setting, A Summer with Charlie and Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother. A Little Something is a book of poetry partly inspired by life in Lawrence. Hobo-ing America, is a workingman’s tour of the U.S.A. The Eastpointer is selected pieces from his award winning column about life in a sleepy fishing village in the Florida Panhandle.