I promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but...Back while a certain person was allegedly working on Wall Street, my favorite male cousin was trying to make money for college after his parents had divorced, remarried, then divorced again. Times were tough, but my cousin was smart. He started out driving a cab in the financial district. He was the kind of cabbie you get in your dreams, polite, helped with your bags, drove fast but safe, and never took a longer way to get a higher fare. He jumped out and opened the door for all of his passengers, in such a genuine way, often turning down tips that were too much, in his mind, because he had been raised to do the right and fair thing.
My cousin applied and ended up getting into Fordham on a generous scholarship for business. Kept driving the cab, kept adding to his good karma, if you believe in that. Graduated with honors and started a small automotive parts business from a friend's garage. Little by little, as his family fell apart; one brother to minor league baseball dreams and schemes, the other to cocaine-fueled theatre and modeling, his mother to gambling, his father to another woman...my cab driver cousin soldiered on.
Got married and bought a house, his wife was one-in-a-million. They attended church regularly. The business grew larger, as did their family, with three healthy and handsome children. We sent each other Christmas cards, got together sporadically for christenings and the occasional holiday or funeral. This abruptly tapered off and I noticed his wife was signing his name to the cards that no longer arrived with a Christmas family photo.
Now, you may be thinking at this point how the heck does a mime fit into this story? It was all because of a one-credit college course at Fordham on Famous Mimes of Our Times. (Corny, but I didn't make the title; the teacher, a former mime did.) My cousin happened to take this course and over the years, despite his flourishing personal and business life, whatever he had learned in that one-credit course became an obsession.
What I found out while attending the trial as a jury member was that he put the business in his wife's name, delegated a lot of the day-to-day dealings of his now international business, and showed up only when needed at quarterly meetings. During the day, he donned a disguise, and while most of the alleged actions definitely did not actually take place; he was just tired of having it all.
Wearing his dreadlocked wig and crazy outfit, he felt free. He felt like a Super Hero of the Homeless and Downtrodden. Yes, he had a donation box, but all of the money plus a generous and anonymous amount of his own went straight to a local soup kitchen that had been on the brink of closing, which would have left many hungry. It also came out at trial, that he'd purchased his old cab and gave free rides to anyone in trouble or down on their luck, from drunken teenagers to sad hookers. No judgment, just a free ride to a safe place.
The locals who ran the coffee shops, the bars, bakeries, the street vendors of foods and New York City souvenirs all loved him, so on that day when someone lost their job and took it out on my cousin, well, shock and revenge sent silent waves through the crowds. At this point, I should mention the extended family had not only quite a few members in blue, but a sitting judge in criminal court. I heard that several key people were paid off to be in the right place at the right time, if you know what I mean. I leave the question of who the bad guy was, to you, dear readers, as I am clearly biased, having orchestrated the entire farce, backed by money sent to me from Atlantic City by my gambling aunt, the mime's mother.