45.5° N, 122.6° W
On the northern cusp of SE Portland, just east of where the Morrison Street Bridge crosses the Willamette, is Morrison Hotel. The dive is named after an album by The Doors, though the interior of the bar, if it has a theme, is Boston diaspora. Morrison Hotel, affectionately called “MoHo”, is an alcove for the lost tribes of Red Sox Nation and if you heard the dialect of English being spoken you’d swear you were in Portland, Maine, not something as Pacific as Oregon. While I lack any ties to New England, the MoHo has become my spiritual refuge. It is here where I am recognized and, if not trusted or respected, I am allowed my skullduggeries in a place of discretion.
Sir Wally Raleigh is behind bar under his baseball cap, the blonde facial hair of a musketeer and broken teeth after a night of drunken pushups with a blood alcohol level of 2. He says “hey” when I enter the bar, giving me a side-eye glance away from his pulp romance paperback novel. I order two beers; a pair of local IPAs brewed with Cascadian hops and maybe some grass clippings and pine sap. Here you go, says Sir Wally Raleigh as he delivers the pints, go suck some tree dick.
Doctor Sfakianakis has found a table in the other room and he seems content with the darkness, or in the least he is as content as a man in distress can be. He thanks me for the beer but does not drink it. I had been willing to arrange this meeting closer to his home in Hood River, the picturesque mountain town an hour east of here, but Doctor Sfakianakis preferred meet in a metropolitan setting where it was less likely he would be recognized conducting business with a couple deviants.
San Diego Johnny arrives late, as expected and budgeted into my schedule. No one really remembers the name San Diego Johnny first introduced himself as, but when the locals began calling him “San Diego Johnny”, he acquiesced. His moniker would become corrupted to Johnny Sands and Diego Danger with time and his reputation would precede him as legend circulated orally and online about the handsome Californian, Johnny Sands, who was after the pearls around your mama’s neck and whatever was in her medicine cabinet. He isn’t particularly well liked, this San Diego Johnny, especially in a blue-collar dive like the MoHo. It is Tuesday afternoon, however, and business is slow. When San Diego Johnny walks inside the dive, he receives no more notice than one of Sir Wally Raleigh’s sideward glances.
On the approach of the San Diegan, it is clear Doctor Sfakianakis is impressed. San Diego Johnny looks like something off the set of a daytime soap opera with his dirty-blonde, feathered, hair, white shorts and unbuttoned pastel dress shirt. He even has a story about growing up in the Southland, being a child actor as every child’s parent there aspires to, until “the Industry” blackballed him for actions entirely his fault. In the 1990s, he had been cast as a guest star on Beverly Hills 90210, Johnny San Diego will tell anyone listening, to play a “big bad” who steals all of Dylan McKay’s cocaine. During filming, San Diego Johnny open-hand slapped Ian Zerling, insisting to the producers it was in his script, but confiding to us it was improvisational and he had come to the set after spending the past two days drinking through five bottles of cough suppressant, not because he was sick, but because he loved the chemical orange flavor. Verboten in Hollywood, San Diego Johnny would eventually be exiled out of California completely, away from his family’s prestigious goings-on, and has since parked his pristine-white Jeep in Portland where he attends one of the liberal arts colleges to study calligraphy by day and chases the cougars of the Pearl District by night, all while burning through his monthly trust-fund payouts.
That fucker is a 2nd rate douchebag and I hope he chokes on his chode.Ginga Chuck, speaking of San Diego Johnny
You must be the medicine man, San Diego Johnny says to Doctor Sfakianakis, shaking hands before spinning a chair around backwards for him to straddle and lean forward against the frame. He grabs my pint of beer and takes a refreshing gulp; I tell him he can keep it, I do not trust the alcohol of the IPA to decontaminate whichever diseases swim through his backwash. He laughs and claps me on the back, asking if I’ve ordered food as he could go for a grip of fries con queso about now. What is unsaid is that San Diego Johnny hasn’t ordered his own food or beer because dude is broke.
San Diego Johnny shifts his focus on the client, giving a proud chin lift before admitting his old man was a doctor and pro’ly still is. Matter of fact, his father performed nasal reconstruction surgery on none-other than William Jefferson Clinton, the President, San Diego Johnny says. President Clinton, according to San Diego Johnny, had rotted out his nasal cavity with daily cocaine use through the 80s and the 90s. Totally makes sense, for sure, how else is any man to work 22 hours a day as the leader of the free world. Am I right? After the surgery, Slick Willy couldn’t play the sax for 6 months, but that didn’t keep him from getting his flute blown! So Doc, San Diego Johnny asks Doctor Sfakianakis, what sort of bonesawing do you do?
Doctor Sfakianakis is itchy with nerves, sweaty with anticipation. He rubs his hands as if making a fire, but his palms are moist. He is not one for the niceties of small talk; at least not in these confines. He is urging the conversation ahead, asking San Diego Johnny if he has been “briefed on the situation.” For sure, San Diego Johnny says, yeah, man, I am stoked. Johnny Sands leans forward into his seat back and says, you have an unwanted guest, a possum in your attic and you want to clean house. Doctor Sfakianakis shakes his head at this. He believes it is paramount he is absolutely clear, Doctor Sfakianakis tells us, he has a wife who is returning after a year-long estrangement and he has a mistress who refuses to discontinue their temporary sexual arrangement. San Diego Johnny gets it, says, your old lady’s coming home, but the sheets are dirty. You need a launderer. My mistress, Doctor Sfakianakis says, threatens to tell my wife everything. This cannot happen. San Diego Johnny says, yeah, brah, you got a sidepiece you need silenced.
“She is a human being!” Doctor Sfakianakis shouts louder than he wanted. His voice quietens, “She is a human being. I do not want her silenced. I want her to voluntarily vacate my personal life.”
I add to the explanation the aforementioned mistress is a nurse who works with Doctor Sfakianakis. San Diego Johnny hollers as a surfer spotting the next set of waves. He is joyous as he says the doctor has dipped his pen in the company ink… Look man, San Diego Johnny says, what you need is for this chick to get disinterested; am I right, you need your Hood River sidepiece to be distracted with something shiny and I got just the Hood ornament for her. I speak next, taking inspiration from The Doors, suggesting Doctor Sfakianakis needs a backdoor man for his backdoor woman. He needs San Diego Johnny.
Doctor Sfakianakis reluctantly shares a picture of his mistress. San Diego Johnny is delighted by her image. He offers to wave his condom disposal fee. Doctor Sfakianakis reacts poorly to this comment. He doesn’t want his mistress seduced and fucked by this man… San Diego Johnny interrupts him, asking if the doctor wants his marriage and eat it too. Pick your marriage or pick your booty-call, man, then let’s party. Like Miagi says, middle of road, squash like grape. Doctor Sfakianakis does not like anything he hears.
What if… I posit, what if San Diego Johnny meets the mistress in Hood River, uses his bag of tricks to get her on a date at a predetermined location, and you, Doctor Sfakianakis arrive to discover the couple, you confess to your mistress your heart is broken and you can never take her back. She realizes her mistake and moves on. Everyone moves on.
“I like the way you think, brah.” San Diego Johnny lifts my own beer glass as a salute.
What bag of tricks, Doctor Sfakianakis wants to know. How does this happen, he is curious. San Diego Johnny explains he would normally stalk the chick for a couple weeks, build a profile, birdwatch from afar, learn her migratory patterns, her quirks and fetishes, learn what she lusts for to make herself whole and then he will present to her that very ideal. If she wants a daddy, San Diego Johnny says, I’m her daddy. If she wants a fuzzy unicorn, I become a fuzzy fucking unicorn. This is smash & grab heart thievery, brah. I track her down at her favorite juice bar or yoga studio and then your huntress becomes the hunted. All I have to do, San Diego Johnny says to us, is walk up to her and say “I was looking in this direction and then you, like, totally stepped into my line of sight…” and that is it, bedazzled with spectacle, she’ll forget about her Mr. Perfect.
“Doctor Perfect”, Doctor Sfakianakis insists with the slightest mirth. He asks about the timeline. 4 weeks. Doctor Sfakianakis asks about an escalated timeline of 4 days. San Diego Johnny, smiling as always, says it can be done – for a price – and mentions he is glad he brought his overnight bag. This, I can say, is a crock of shit. San Diego Johnny has spent the last week on my roommate’s couch, much to Ginga Chuck’s chagrin. San Diego Johnny’s only bag is his overnight bag.
Yeah, San Diego Johnny says to Doctor Sfakianakis, I’ve been to Hood River before. Radical shit, for sure. Went to one of those lookouts over the Columbia River Gorge, he says, with this chick from Lake Oswego, a Portland State pole vaulter, I knew her mother but that didn’t end well, and I had an axe to grind and this chick was up to the challenge, and she ground my axe and buried my hatchet, for sure, but we’re there, it’s hella dark, wilderness, and we’re fucking, I mean, like animals, in my Jeep on this overlook, she’s holding onto the crossbar like an orangutan when, in Hood River below, this ambulance goes by and the coyotes start howling from every fucking mountain around us and me and this chick are howling back and…
“Someone fired a shotgun in the air, silencing the dogs.” Doctor Sfakianakis guessed. San Diego Johnny, stunned, says, yeah, how’d you know. Doctor Sfakianakis replies, “We do not negotiate with wolves.”
San Diego Johnny smiles, shrugs, somewhat aloof. Doctor Sfakianakis puts down a $20 to compensate me for the beers and says he will be in touch. At the doctor’s departure, San Diego Johnny turns to me and asks, so you’re not going to order any chow, man?
It was the last I would ever hear or see Doctor Sfakianakis or San Diego Johnny. We can only assume the obvious: the two decided to conduct business while cutting out the middleman – me, your narrator – and whatever went down in Hood River, Mrs. Sfakianakis is probably missing a string of pearls.