This morning I listened to Jerry Reed, Pat Metheny's 80/81, and Stevie Wonder's The Secret Life Of Plants" on vinyl. The joy was brought to me by Brian Vinson, Louisville friend and fellow Days of The New player, who brought his stereo into the apartment last night. Since arriving in New York last Thursday , Brian has attended the 12th Night closing party, partied with lesbian German ladies at a gay bar, taught a bass lesson to a gifted young musician, and been frisked by cops on our street (learning in the process that the word "dope" means something different in New York than Kentucky.)
Brian makes a great pasta dish with tomatoes and basil and is putting Traci and I to shame hustling work: he rounded up 340.00 in jobs in his first week in the city.
A few minutes ago he was working on his resume when I pointed to the UPS letter package that had come for him this morning. In the package was a check made out to Brian for $2975.00.
Immediately I had a flashback to the bogus Tool ticket I bought outside the Hammerstien Ballroom a few years back, but the way Brian's luck was going, I had to pause and wonder the odds. "This sounds just like a scam my neighbor told me about," Brian said. "They send you a check then tell you the money needs to be delivered immediately. So you deposit the check, deliver money to someone, and before you know the check has bounced, they have made off with your money."
This didn't stop the instantaneous daydreams of where the money would go.
"How much do you owe on rent, Ray? Let's go pay it!"
There were no watermarks.
"That weed dealer got anything bigger than an 8th?"
The check appeared to be from an account belonging to The New York Foundling at 590 Avenue Of The Americas. A search online revealed that there was indeed a New York Foundling Hospital at that location. A 140-year old non-profit New York institution dedicated to the children of the community. Their motto is "Abandon No One".
The signature on the check was a bloated pixilated computer signature from somebody named Hayes. The participating bank was Commerce Bank at 90 Fifth Ave. Another search and a few phone calls and we learned that 90 Fifth Avenue is the bulding by Union Square that houses Guitar Center and they have space available. We also learned Commerce Bank was now TD Bank, and the validity of the check was, according to a bank employee "supect".
The UPS package was from an unnamed person residing in White Plains, New York.
Brian continues working on his resume and I play Joao Gilberto. Brian's phone rings. "What? Who?"
A man on the other end identifies himself as Dimitri.
Brian: "Oh, yes sir, I did get the check in the mail, But its for 29-uh, but our arrangement was for eight hundred. Not twenty-nine hundred - "
Brian turns down Gilberto. "I was expecting a phone call from you before I got the check. I just got it an hour ago... you would like me to do what with the 2100.00? How, uh... I said, how would I go about doing that without putting this check in my account?...[long pause]... if I can get it cashed at the Commerce Bank then sure - I'll get the money to your landlord. What's your landlords number? ....[longer pause] What's not possible?"
"Well, if its in New York, I can get it cashed and run it by him."
"If this check will cash at the bank, then yes."
"Alright, well, what's your landlord's name and number?"
"Yeah, but you didn't send the landlord's name and number did you?"
"How do you spell your name?... D D or just D? Okay, go ahead....(writes) okay...okay...uh huh. Okay...okay...access to a computer, yes. I'm on it right now. Want me to check my e-mail? Okay, so...have the realtors name and address of what the apartment is..."
"...well the banks are probably closed now - its 4:30 so I'll have to do it first thing in the morning. Uh, it's 4:30 here in New York and the banks are already closed..."
"Sir." Brian's voice is sharper and deeper. "Well, if I can go by the bank and cash it, we can get the money to your landlord. Yeah. That'd be great. Send me the e-mail. Thanks."
Dimitri. I ask Brian what nationality he seemed to be. "Who knows it wasn't no English." Brian cops an accent that could have been African or Egyptian and tones Dimitri's reply when Brian told him he hadn't cashed the money yet. "Oh, I thought you were going to do that already."
Brian leans into the laptop in front of him. "Yeh. Dimitri here. He said he would send me an e-mail. Let's see if he's sent it yet."
I remind Brian that he'd already talked to TD bank and the check is "suspect".
"Yeah," he says. "But they didn't really look it up."
We're gonna go to the bank tomorrow.