by, July 6th, 2011 at 10:00 PM (5910 Views)
Went down to the Ft Myers-Naples area for the Fourth weekend and ran into a bunch of old friends. Did a 4th BBQ with the family, blew off a few firecrackers and headed out on Monday, intent on meeting up with an old friend down the interstate, one whom I have not seen for--God, could it be ?...32 years?
Marvin is one of those people who pop into your life and become, over a few years, a very good friend, someone with whom you have TIES-- and then he just vanishes.
Everybody has had friends like that, personally important people who just go away, never to be heard from again.
When he disappeared, our little cabal of best friends felt the loss.
Marvin had a reason to vanish--a very good reason. He was a murder suspect.
Back in the late '70s, I was 4 years out of New York, still rather new to Florida. I was married then, with a couple of babies, and most of what we did when we hung out with our friends was done at home. We were blessed with some very cool people as friends, and one day one of the guys introduced Marvin into the group. He began hanging out at the house, sharing the weed and buying the wine, and eventually became one with the ocean of friends that washed up on our doorstep. He was welcome company.
Marv was a New York Jew, a short, soft-spoken dark-haired mensch straight outta Queens. He had a Middle Kingdom accent and a great sense of humor. He'd finished 3 years of college at NYU and several semesters at the New School. He was lost in Florida, yearning to return to The City.
Marvin came from a conservative family; his father was a rebbe who golfed, and his mom was Molly Goldberg. He had a deep intellectual bent and was comfortable talking about everything from the Stones to the Mets to Camus to Camaros, often in the same sentence.
He made a living as a commercial diver and would dive in the Gulf of Mexico for recovery firms, sometimes finding unusual items aboard the sunken vessels he dove on. He loved the water and did everything he could to be on or near water.
Marvin eventually married Corrine, a professed witch. She was a nice enough girl, a Goth WAY before anyone knew what that meant, but what the hell, all us hippies were wierd in some way, so she fit into the group well.
One day, doing his job, Marv dove on a dope boat, a pot-carrying cabin cruiser that hit a sandbar and sunk. Inside, he found a satchel with $300,000 in it. He and his dive partner hid the bag of money, finished their work and came back to the site at 1 AM. They dove the wreck in the dark, recovered the sack and split it up on shore. And life went on.
A few days after the job was done he stopped by. He had said nothing to anyone--
not even Corrine--about the money, but he confided in me. The money made him nervous. He wanted me to hold it. I wanted nothing to do with it.
A month later, over a joint, he told me that he heard that the people who sunk the pot boat had found out who he was and they wanted their money back. He said it was serious, not some rumor, and it was keeping him up nights. A few days after that, the wife and I ran into him at the supermarket. We chatted, made plans to hang out. That was the last time I saw Marvin. Summer 1979.
About a week later, Corrine's body washed up on the beach.
She was drowned, weighed down by some of Marvin's weight belts, the really heavy ones he uses when he dives deep; he was the natural suspect. The cops questioned all of us about Marv and Corrine, but nobody knew nothin'. He became a wanted man. The newspapers sensationalized about it for weeks. His "profile" appeared on TV, a local station's effort to do an "America's Most Wanted" story. In it, they are shown in a bitter argument, centered around her witchy ways and Marv hits her, then decides to drown her, carrying the body 20 miles to the Gulf, tossing her off a boat using his own weight belts to sink her body. They got everything wrong, even the apartment.
There was no mention of lots of money from anyone, or of any possible pot-dealing hitmen.
My friend--our friend--did NOT do that. Period.
He fled to New York. He wound up in a small town on a big river Upstate, I later found out. One day a couple years ago while killing time on the interweb, I thought of him and tried to find out if he was in prison somewhere or maybe dead, or what???. You consider all options when you lose someone from your life so abruptly then try to find them 30 years later. I have a friend in law enforcement and he was able to find Marv in the system. Sadly, my search stopped there. I was stumped--the information ENDED in 2002 !!!
He HAD served time in Florida --very little--and he was a free man again, somewhere, I guessed, in New York State... and one day, perusing some newspaper crime story archives, I found him.
There was a number associated with the search. I called it. The people who answered said they knew nothing of Marvin, but if I cared to leave a message for him..
Two hours later he called, and we have talked every few months since...
--The very first question I had for my old friend was " Allright, man- did you do it ??"
--My friend said "No."
He created a new identity and lived and worked in a small town, working in a marina he later came to own. He made a good living and knew everyone in town. His friend, the one I spoke with, knew nothing of a "Marvin". She knew him as a guy with some other name--and it was--is--a really clever, Marvin-like name. Only my description as a friend from the old Florida days caused her to give him the message. He had successfully vanished and got away with it and he was still living a secret life, preferring to hang on to his pseudonynm...
When his Dad died in '99, he secretly flew to Florida to be at the grave, but he made a mistake calling his Mom. The cops, no fools, had seized upon opportunity and tapped his mother's phone. Imediately after the call, sensing danger, he hopped on the next plane to New York, but, alas, he was arrested upon deplaning at JFK and extradited to Florida.
The police had nothing. Everything was 20 years on, nobody was around to question, so Marvin served a few months for Flight to Avoid Prosecution, then that went away, since he had no warrants out for him when he innocently got out of town in '79. He really thought that the pot people found him, killed Corrine as a warning and were after him next. He went to running, a bag of salty money as his only salvation, and he vanished into Greater America. He feared the pot people MUCH more than he feared cops. I'd bet you couldn't get away with that today.
We spoke last month and he told me he was moving--retiring-- to Florida, something he can now do with no fear, and would be instate around the 4th of July...
I approached Marv's exit on the interstate, fumbling for my cellphone at 80 miles per hour, and I punch in his number. He's here in Florida, visiting friends and buying a retirement house, and I need directions, but when I called I got an electronic voice that said "...all message units are full. Try again later.", I tried again a lot, but no answer, and I drove on.
Maybe I'll catch up with him when he drives out of Florida on his way back to New York. I hope so. I need to hear the details. My old buddy has a hell of a story to tell.
Two days later, he's STILL not answering his phone.