As Jimmy Hoffa Dies

–July 30, 1975

2:00 pm. Hoffa sits in the parking lot of the Machus Red Fox Italian Restaurant in Detroit and waits for his contact. The day is hot. Hoffa keeps the windows of his Pontiac open. He likes air conditioning but he isn’t going to pay for the gas. Though he’s been trying to quit he smokes a Pall Mall. He’s fucked: a man at the mercy of Gerald Ford and the Mafia and a hundred little fuckers every one of them dangerous. He smokes.

2:00 pm. Kuusisto sits on a roof in Geneva, New York listening to Billie Holiday. He’s 20 and blind and tiny crazed. He’s recently been in a mental hospital but now he’s alone and loves the line: “God bless the child that’s got his own”. He feels he understands it. He lights a joint wrapped in yellow wheat paper.

2:05 pm. Hoffa is agitated. No sign of anyone. He goes into the restaurant and gets some change from a waiter and phones a lieutenant. He blows off steam.

2:05 pm. Kuusisto is thinking about Holiday’s vocal energy vs. Leadbelly’s. On the Alan Lomax recordings he hears all the particles of Mr. Ledbetter’s body shouting together. Holiday still has this pain but she’s also found joy in emptiness.

2:08 pm. Hoffa is only aware of the apparent insult, not of the coming threat.

2:08 pm. Kuusisto turns the record over.

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