Wednesday, January 19, 2011

About Vince

Monday we had lunch at Rocco’s. We were in the area and Rocco is known for its chili and chili is what we had.

Something about Rocco’s remind me of a Southern Fried version of an English Pub. Maybe it is because everybody seems to know each other and the customers look very comfortable talking quietly, not like they are looking at their watches during their lunch period.

I overheard the waitress say she has been there 30 years. When she brought our drinks I said, “Did you say 30 years?” She said yes.

Then I asked her did she know Vince DeSantes. She said yes. I told her I worked with Vince at the Post Office.

Just a few minutes later she returned to our table and asked did I want to see some pictures of Vince. Sure I said. She took me to just inside the entrance where a wall of was filled with snapshots. Many of the pictures were Vince outside at various chili cook-offs. In many of the pictures he was wearing his Marine utility jacket and a ball cap but occasionally he had no hat showing his onion looking bald head. I think there were more pictures of Vince than anyone else.

She said someplace on the wall were some pictures of Vince and his boy, but she couldn’t find them.

She said what happened was terrible. I said “You never know what goes on in someone’s mind.” She shot me a look, like, “what the….?”

When Vince was alive he hung out at Rocco’s Pub and was part of Rocco’s Chili Cook-Off team. They went to cook-offs and New Orleans, Texas, south Georgia, and Stone Mountain.

Vince was born July the 16th 1941. I remember that because that is my birthdate too.

Vince was from Boston but spent all his work-life in the Marines until he retired and went to work for the Postal Service. He was slim and wiry. He had a gruffy masculine way about him.

As far as I know Vince had never been married. He bought a house, a big shiny sports car, and adopted a 15 year old boy. I think the new house and the sports car may have been part of an inheritance from a wealthy aunt that he was courting, so to speak.

I worked as a window clerk next to Vince for two or three years. I noticed time and time he juggled things things to wait on the elite customers. If a known elected official walked into the lobby and stood in line, he arranged it where he would wait on that person. If it looked like someone else may get that person he would put the “next window” sign up on his counter and do something that looked important, rifling through paperwork, but keeping a sharp eye on the flow or the line and just when the elected official moved up to the head of the line Vince would slap down his “Next Window” sign and motion for the person “To come on down”, as he would say.

I shared what I observed with a couple of window clerk friends and after that we had a private joke going on watching how Vince would work things where he always got the big shots, the elite. We sometimes couldn’t help but from smirking when he went into action.

After about three years working on the window I went back to my old job as the NIXIE clerk. NIXIE is non-identifiable mail - My job was give it one last try before returning it to sender. I knew just about all the streets in Marietta and their old names so I was pretty good at it.

One morning a line-supervisor, who ironically was also named Vince, made an announcement It went something like this: If we see Vince DeSantes that morning keep your distance and get a supervisor.

What did Vince do this time? He had always been a Sgt Bilko wheeler-dealer type.

Inspectors were standing around waiting on Vince. He didn’t show up for work.

What we didn’t know was Vince was being watched for weeks. A case was being built against him. He stole thousands of dollars, in work related transactions. They had enough to arrest him.

Somehow Vince must have found out they were closing in on him.

Still in the same morning, the acting - station manager came out and gathered everybody around her. She announced Vince had been found in his car at a park between the separation dam between Lake Acworth and Lake Allatoona. with a bullet hole in his head. He was clutching a pistol in one hand and rosary beads in the other hand.

I think Vince was in his other car, the older one.


His new teenage adopted son had turned 16 by then. His main concern was when he was going to get the sports car. I don’t know what ever happened to the boy.

But what happened to Vince?

One of my friends, fellow clerk, felt some things didn’t add up. He got a policeman friend he went through school with to look into some of the facts. One hour before the estimated time of the shot Vince checked out the maximum amount out of an ATM machine. Of course, the age old question on LAW & ORDER: If he was going to kill himself, why withdraw all the money he could? Why drive the old car when his new sports car was his pride and joy? He didn’t want blood on the seats… that might be within reason. The body weighed over 250 pounds. Vince was very slim, I bet he didn’t weight over 160 pounds. And the dead person's wallet had no money in it - if it was him what happened to the money?

Is the real Vince still out there?

And also, the chili was delicious.

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Blogger El Postino said...

I love a mystery, but they aren't like they are on TV. You can't wrap them up in 60 minutes.

If someone murdered Vince they got away with it.

And why would a retired Marine, never married, adopt a 15-year-old boy?

8:23 PM  

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