Al Sullivan’s journal
Rumor of Alf
I heard word of Alf against this xmas.
The news, however, wasn’t good.
He’d hunkered down at Digman’s ferry, a hunted and haunted man, so fed up with the Garley gang that he’d rather avoid us altogether.
I hadn’t seen him since the great Pyramid rip off of 1985, when Pauly, Alf and Rick made plans to build a mythical museum, one of Pauly’s get risk quick schemes that puttered out, leaving Alf to think Pauly had stolen his share of the loot.
The plan called for building a model of the mythic place, complete with fake plans, wooden replicas, maps, drawings and other supposedly authenticating items, then selling the package to the public as a novelty.
Alf – twisting Pauly's design into something more sinister – took the whole thing as some sort of art scam, as if these conspirators could construct anything that might get past a carbon dating test as real. Alf even came to the lake house to meet with Pauly and Rick, bringing a box of wooden blocks, which were supposed to be the wooden model.
I suppose Alf thought he could con them as he believed they intended to con the world, and said they would eventually serve the purpose Pauly intended, missing the whole artistic concept. The argument ended his friendship with Pauly, as Alf fled – leaving none of us to catch sight of him again.
Alf frequently mistook Pauly, even when we were kids and he used to transform Pauly’s sarcasm into something sadistic, a twisted enraged imitation that made many people hate him.
Now, a decade later, word filters back to us about how angry he has become, living in a house in the woods, bitter about Pauly.
Someone said he found money enough to plan a move back to West Paterson.
Rumor even suggests he’s become a thief. Indeed, one Manhattan firm for which Alf has done carpentry even suggested he stole materials off the job.
And poor Rob, a man with no future after losing his job in the motor parts company, coming up with a diagnosis of diabetes, had Alf over as a guest one night only to discover Alf gone the next morning with half of his valuables.
Charlie’s parents said Alf showed up at their house after Charlie’s death of bone cancer, sorting through the dead man’s possessions, carting away anything of worth.
For years, people have mistaken me for Alf. We look enough alike at times for some to mistake us as twins, and each mistake of identity bares with it a negative connotation. The people who confronted me were not glad to see me, thinking to lynch me when mistaking me for Alf.
Which explains why he lives in the woods, fearful of running into anyone who knows him, and what a mistake it might be for him to move back to the old neighborhood – if indeed he ever does.
Remarkably, Jane stumbled across Alf in her search for Pauly, and from her we learned of Alf’s enduring bitterness.
Alf seemed unaware of Hank’s death last March. A good thing, too, or we might find him rooting through Hank’s mother’s house looking for the secret horde of Marvel comics Hank reportedly hid in his attic.
God knows that rumor circulated among the Garley Gang for years, though we found out shortly after the funeral that their value was hardly what rumor made it.
Oh well, Merry Xmas all. I’m sure I’ll meet Alf again some day, maybe even under positive circumstances, or perhaps he’ll stop over at my house after my funeral, looking for some stash of riches I’m rumored to have.